Friday, October 22, 2010

Creature Feature: The Wendigo

The Wendigo is a creature rumored to exist in some tribes native to North America. Supposedly the Wendigo is a cannibal, a human turned beast, whose hunger for flesh can’t be controlled. It lives a solitary existence in the forest and is often associated with cold, barren climates. Its appearance ranges from close to human, with leathery skin to almost wolf-like and covered with a coat of dark hair. It’s also reported to look thin and skeletal.

It isn’t just some random monster to be feared though. Ultimately, it represents what can be come of someone if they do something unthinkable-eat human flesh. The Wendigo is especially scary because at least part of it is human.  It’s the physical representation of the dark side in us.

Monsters and fantasy creatures often serve important teaching roles in society about what is (and isn’t) acceptable.  Just as we tell children to behave so that boogey man won’t get them, the tribes told each other not to consume human flesh so they wouldn’t turn into horrible beasts. In times of famine and starvation, it was important that people didn’t turn on each other. The Wendigo legend helped prevent them from seeing each other as a food source.

Beyond being a creature of legend, there are still people who believe the Wendigo exists. There have been numerous sightings of a bigfoot like creature in Minnesota attributed to the Wendigo. The Wendigo has also been thought to be responsible for several disappearances in the woods. Even if this monster is little more than a local legend, it’s fun to think of the possibility of it lurking through the forest, as long as you don’t have to run into it.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen this monster used in videogames before, but I never knew what mythology it came from.

    Thanks for the background info!