Monday Monster Profile: Wendigos

Wendigo as featured in Supernatural

What is a wendigo?

A wendigo is essentially a cannibalistic supernatural entity. It is typically found in the woods in North America and attacks and eats hikers and campers.

How do wendigos come about?

In some legends a wendigo is a malicious flesh-eating spirit, but in other legends wendigos were once human. It is said that a human that succumbs to cannibalism can be transformed into a wendigo, and is then cursed to haunt the woods eating flesh but never feeling satisfied.

How do I know a wendigo when I see one?

Wendigos possess super-human strength and speed to catch their prey, so you probably won’t have time to identify their features at leisure. However, wendigos are often depicted as emaciated, starving beings – always hungry, yet no matter how much they eat, their hunger cannot be satisfied. If you see a really skinny entity drooling in the woods – run away.

How do I kill it?

Advice varies from the standard use of silver to the more obscure shattering of the heart (some variations of the story involve the wendigo having a heart made of ice). Fire is said to ward it off, but it is uncertain whether burning alive would cause true death. I’d go with burning and shooting with silver bullets followed by dismemberment and further burning – but I’m a cautious sort.

I want to know more!

Algernon Blackwood’s story ‘The Wendigo’ (1910) is a great place to start (but he’s one of my favourite authors so of course I’m going to say that!)

Also check out the 2001 film Wendigo (which merges the myth somewhat with werewold legends)

Wendigos also turn up as an X-File and one is hunted by Sam and Dean in Supernatural.

Marvel comics feature wendigos which comply with some elements of the folklore.

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