Monsters, Legends, and Television: The Wendigo

Image: animalplanet.com

If there is one thing that you don’t want to run into in the frozen tundra, that would be the Wendigo. This creature of Anishinaabe legend has been around for quite some time, but it has made its way into another realm, film. In fact, if you happen to watch any supernatural television shows you might just have seen this horror.

The Wendigo first appeared in the legends of the tribes residing along the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. These areas are know for their extremely harsh winters where surviving requires planning if you want to make it until spring. However, sometimes things don’t always go as planned which can to hard decisions to make once that last morsel of food is eaten. If you happen to find yourself in this situation where any of your traveling companions start to look appetizing, you better not eat them. Even if it is the only thing you can do to survive. You should heed the warnings of the legends before getting your fork out.



Where does a Wendigo come from?


The Wendigo comes into being when the only thing that could possibly cause death to pass you buy is that hunk of meat that is there with you. Your traveling companion could be the answer to satisfying that gnawing hunger that tears at your belly. It doesn’t matter if they have already passed on, or if you have to dispatch them yourself giving into the hunger and partaking in the flesh of a human could be the end for you. That one bite of meat that could save your life could also be the thing that grants you the golden ticket which turns you into a Wendigo.

Granted the chances of someone needing to resort to cannibalism to survive the winter these days is remote. In the past though, it was always a possibility. During those harsh winters, tribes and settlers could easily be cut off in a region by bitter snowfall or ice. Just like what happened to the Donner Party or more recently the 1972 Andes flight disaster.


What happens when you become a Wendigo?

There is a reason Native American lore depicts the creature as the embodiment of greed and gluttony. Thought you were hungry before feasting on your friend? Now that you have turned into a Wendigo, the hunger which raged in your belly doesn’t even come close to going away. When the Wendigo feeds upon human flesh, the only thing it will eat, it is said the creature will grow in proportion to the size of the individual they have consumed. This growth never allows the creature to get the nourishment that it craves. As a result the life of a Wendigo seems to be one of utter starvation.


Okay, don’t eat people. Got it. What does it look like ?


The Wendigo has just as many names as it does appearances.  Some depict the Wendigo as a giant skeleton looking creature made of ice. Another says that you can only see the creature when it is looking at you because it is so thin from starvation. There is a description of the half beast with a skeleton head and jagged antlers. A walking corpse with long white hair with bones poking out below the tight gray skin covering its body is also described. This last one reminds seems a lot like the White Walkers from Game of Thrones.  The one thing they all have in common is that the creature looks unlike any horror you would ever see again.



So can I kill it?

Possibly. Killing the Wendigo isn’t going to be the easiest task but since there is a good chance that it might eat you, well at least give it a shot. Who knows you might get lucky.

This thing is fast and strong so you will have to plan out your attack. The bad part is, once you know it is out there it is already hunting you. Hopefully you packed well for your adventure into the frozen tundra.


The most effective method for killing a Wendigo is to destroy the heart. Lore indicates that is where the frozen soul of the human who turned into the creature resides. Once the heart is destroyed, the soul is released and the creature dies. Since the heart is said to be made out of ice, fire is a great way to defeat it. If you failed to pack a flamethrower, then do whatever you can to destroy the heart. A gun might work- if you have silver bullets that’s even better. A silver knife will work as well.

Okay, so you’ve taken out the Wendigo. Lore says there are quite a few different ways to dispose of the body: Everything from fire, to burying the heart in a silver box that is then buried on holy ground, to scattering the ashes different bodies of water. If you don’t dispose of it correctly, the creature will come back to life again.

Hold on though – did you get bit by the Wendigo while fighting it? I forgot to mention that the Wendigo bite is much like the bite of a werewolf. You’re doomed.


Hey, didn’t Sam and Dean kill one?


Why yes they did. The second episode of Supernatural dealt with a Wendigo, and it has popped up in references over the course of the show, but that isn’t the only show it has been on. The Wendigo has appeared in on the Aninmal Planet’s series Lost Tapes along with other shows such as Charmed, Grimm, Teen Wolf, Sleepy Hollow, and The X-Files. (Check out how it appears in Teen Wolf in Pure Fandom’s Teen Wolf expert Cecile’s post!)

This topic will continue next week with another creature of mythology. Do you have one that scares you to death or would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments, and I will add it to my list to feature.


Brad Zipprich

Sci-fi and horror are where it’s at for Brad. As a podcaster for over nine years, it is clear that Brad likes to talk. A fan of the Syfy channel since the day it aired he enjoys covering the variety of shows that the channel puts airs. Be sure to check out the Brad & Cort Talk Podcast here on PureFandom where Brad and his longtime co-host Cort, recap shows and interview actors. Brad is also an avid Obstacle Course Runner who enjoys doing things most people think he is crazy for attempting.

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