If you have ever read (or seen) The Village, you can understand what I mean when I say that things are not always what they seem. From the beginning of time, man has created stories, myths, and so forth about the things that live in the dark, the woods, or the unknown lands. The Wendigo is one of these many tales. Generally associated with the dark, cold, wooded areas of northern Minnesota and Ontario, the Wendigo is a well-noted part of Algonquian culture and since had lived on through other Native American cultures and legends.
As with the Witch and Werewolf trials in Europe, Canada had it's share of Wendigo trials in the settler days; such accounts were often well documented.
What is a Wendigo?The Wendigo's classification has remained debatable, jumping somewhere between the physical and biological anomolies associated with Cryptozoology and a spiritual view ranging from malevolent spirit to forms of demonic possesion.
Theories of how one becomes a Wendigo are varied, but they all resort to one cause: cannibalism. Some believe a human could transform into the Wendigo, while others believed the phenomena to be related directly with possession by a Wendigo spirit. No matter, all cultures in which the Wendigo myth appeared shared the belief that human beings could turn into Wendigos if they ever resorted to cannibalism or, alternately, become possessed by the demonic spirit of a Wendigo.
They were strongly associated with the Winter, the North, and coldness, as well as with famine and starvation. At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess; never satisfied after killing and consuming one person. There is even a satirical ceremonial dance originally performed during times of famine to reinforce the seriousness of the Wendigo taboo.
Can a Wendigo stop itself?Though most tales recount the Wendigo as being cannibalistic, dangerous, and malevolent, some still maintain that the human spirit can have some impact on the decisions of the Wendigo. That the host can still try to live far from civilization to prevent anyone from gaining the misfortune of becoming it's next victim. Some Wendigo possessed people were said to even commit suicide to prevent hurting anyone.
What does a Wendigo look like?To paraphrase various complex and detailed descriptions of the creature, the Wendigo is an extremely skeletal creature lacking any real muscular tissue other than skin and bones, it's skin color ranges from yellow to ash gray, and its eyes range from deep blackened pits to glowing yellow eyes. The description varies quite a bit at times; adding hair, fur, fangs, antlers, and other variations, the Wendigo is one truly left up to the darkest reaches of the human imagination. Some groups believed whenever a Wendigo ate another person, they would grow larger, in proportion to the meal they had just eaten, so that they could never be full.
To sum them up: Windego(s) are tall, lanky and are driven by a horribly insatiable hunger.
Is there any recent Wendigo Activity?A Wendigo allegedly made a number of appearances near a town called Rosesu in Northern Minnesota from the late 1800's through the 1920's. Each time that it was reported, an unexpected death followed and finally, it was seen no more. The latest sighting in Ontario of such a creature was back in 1997 by an American trucker near St. Catherine's.
What our your Conclusion?Some theorize that the tales of the Wendigo were the result of sightings of Big-Foot-type creatures, which the local leaders quickly took advantage of as a way to repress cannibalistic views of some, thus they created the story of the Wendigo. With this in mind, it is interesting to note that the wendigo legend is restricted to the colder parts of the American continent and hasn't spread south. Some would suggest that this bit of information would encourage the idea that a Wendigo is some kind of fictitious tale surrounding some form of ape-man.
Unfortunately, many people tend to believe that the Wendigo is more of a spiritual takeover, or infection, than anything else. Some stories borderline the theories of Werewolf lore; being if one is bitten that the spirit of the Wendigo infects them with no real cure. My personal opinion is that the legends created some form of Wendigo-Psychosis frenzy, resulting in cannibalistic tendencies in persons who were said to be possessed by the Wendigo Spirit. Though, by that same coin, people could simply be possessed and by that note out of their own mind, which is a troubled mental state in itself. Either way, the northern tales of the Wendigo will live on, deterring canabalists everywhere. Real or not, anything that keeps people from trying to eat me is okay in my book.
Anything else?Like Lycanthropy and it's obvious associate with Lycans or Werewolves, Wendigo's have an associated mental condition related to the symptoms of the legendary cannibal, known as Wendigo Psychosis. But Windego Psychosis is a coined term and is not recognized as an official mental condition my the APA.
Note: Wendigo Psychosis is also an associated mental condition. (As with the term Wendigo, the associated mental condition has many referenced spellings and alternative terms) It refers to a condition in which sufferers developed an insatiable desire to eat human flesh even when other food sources were readily available, often as a result of prior famine cannibalism Windigo Psychosis is identified by Western psychologists as a culture-bound syndrome, though members of the aboriginal communities in which it existed believed cases literally involved individuals turning into Wendigos. Such individuals generally recognized these symptoms as meaning that they were turning into Wendigos, and often requested to be executed before they could harm others.
Popular Culture Note: Recently the Wendigo has also become a horror entity of contemporary literature and film, much like the vampire, werewolf, or zombie, although these fictional depictions often bear little resemblance to the original entity.