Anyone who is a fan of horror movies, Stephen King, and the supernatural is likely to have heard of Wendigos. You might have come across a legend or had a friend tell you about them. There is more to the story than you know. It was not written by Warner Bros. Historical accounts by people speak about the creature. There is no need to worry as the origins of the legend are covered by this post. As you read on, you will learn more about the mythical creature.
Now, you must be wondering what the Wendigo looks like. Despite being an insatiable predator, it is not the most muscular or most enormous beast out there. It is said to be about 15 feet tall and has a body that is mainly emaciated. It could be attributed to the fact that it never is truly satisfied with its cannibalistic urges. Wendigos are obsessed with hunting new victims and are always hungry. Therefore, they are continuously searching for the next person to eat.
When we talk about the origins of the Wendigo, indigenous people hold spiritual beliefs that speak of their might. It is believed that the mythical creatures inhabited large parts of the continental interior and the northeastern seaboard., especially around the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. The Wendigo is also spelled in different ways. It is the spirit of winter and symbolizes the dangers of selfishness. Even though beliefs may vary, it is considered a horrifying entity with an insatiable desire for human flesh. If anyone encounters a Wendigo, they would be at risk of being into a Wendigo or being devoured.
Anyone who is engaged in taboo or dishonorable activities like engaging in cannibalism becomes a Wendigo as punishment. According to the author, Shawn Smallman, the myth about Wendigos was merely used for defining moral, social behavior. It simply serves as a warning against selfishness and greed. It is also believed that one could become a Wendigo if they are cursed by a shaman or dream about the mythical creature. In fact, the myth was even used for explaining serious afflictions such as mental illness.
North American Pop Culture
Wendigos have become a popular part of North American pop culture today. They are frequently shown in films and series. Novels like Pet Sematary by Stephen King and The Curse of the Wendigo by Ricky Yancy also describe the mythical creature. Marvel comics, video games, and even cartoons feature the Wendigo. There is a fascination with the beast unlike any other. But, the depictions vary compared to how the creature has been described by indigenous authors over the years. Such differences reveal just how non-natives simplify indigenous beliefs and strip them of their cultural context.
Most pop culture gets the Wendigo wrong. According to Native Americans, Wendigos are thought to be human-like. It has only become a giant over time. A few accounts describe the Wendigo as a hungry human-flesh lover and have a heart made of ice. On the other hand, North American pop culture has likened the creature to a Yeti, vampire, or werewolf. The problem with Hollywood is that it describes creatures in terms of what is popular.
If you search for Wendigos on Google, you will see images of giant reindeer-like beasts and antlered snow demons. The pictures are a far cry from how the creature is described by indigenous people. Traditional indigenous authors have never depicted the Wendigo with antlers. Besides the inaccurate imagery, most depictions of the Wendigo highlight a ravenous animal. Thus, the actual narrative showcasing a lesson on human greed is discarded.
Warning Against Greed
The native peoples have described the Wendigo as a warning against greed. It is associated with colonialism and capitalism in the world of today rather than barren winters or wilderness. There are plenty of indigenous authors who suggest that the story of the Wendigo offers hope in desperate times. The stories have happy endings wherein they escape the Wendigo, unlike the Western interpretations, which suggest that the Wendigo is extremely powerful and decimates everything that comes in its path.
Deeper Meaning Behind Wendigos
Regardless of whether you believe that Wendigos lurk in the woods during the night, it is not a scary tale. The legend has a much deeper meaning than you think. It holds historical significance to most indigenous communities. The stories of the Wendigo are associated with real-world problems such as violence, selfishness, and insatiable greed. They are also linked to various cultural taboos. The term “Wendigo” is used as a symbol for describing gluttony and excess. Self-destruction becomes inevitable when someone is overcome with greed.
Indigenous peoples told Wendigo stories to discuss the primitive and violent nature of the people telling the stories. However, the stories represent the horrific violence that was inflicted on them by the colonizers. Many anthropologists state that the idea behind Wendigos was developed when they came into contact with Europeans. There are lessons in the tales that many of us can learn from. Rather than allowing greed to overtake us, we need to make sure that we keep our greed in check. Now, you must be thinking about whether the scary Wendigo stories are even real or not. A few anthropologists state that the Wendigo stories are simply linked to stress experienced by the Native American communities. Most of the stress was due to the extermination of food and the dwindling amount of resources in the area. The fear of starvation could also be to blame. Only when starvation overtakes someone could it prove to be harmful.
The legend shows just how diverse North America is and how it has evolved over the centuries. The moral of the story is simple. The greed of any kind should be controlled. Otherwise, it can turn one into a monster.