Windigo, Spirit of the Lonely Places
Submitted by: swampy
“Windigo never gives.
Windigo only takes.
You become a Windigo,
you give your life.”
The Algonkian Windigo (also spelled Witiko, Wendigo or Weendigo) is a seasonal, subartic man-eating spirit-creature. Sightings of the creature usually occur in the areas of Southern Canada north of the Great Lakes. Even before Europeans came to this continent, many Native Tribes knew of the creature they called “Windigo”. In some Native American myths the Windigo takes an actual animal form; but in others it is portrayed as a formless animal spirit. In its animal form the Windigo is said to resemble either what is often called a Sasquatch or Bigfoot – or else resembles a timber wolf (only much larger and fiercer). Windigo fur can be gray or brown, or a mixture of both, and the Windigo has strong, short jaws with long, sharp teeth. The face of the Windigo is highlighted with horrid glaring eyes. In its spirit form it is often described as looking like a giant, as tall as the old timbers themselves, with a heart of ice.
No matter what form the Windigo takes, it always has a ravenous appetite for human flesh. During the winter moons when food is scarce, there always has been a great fear of the creature. The entire Windigo species stalks the forests of the north in search of human flesh, lurking silently in the shadows of trees. The Windigo can use trees as snowshoes and therefore can cover vast distances in a single step. As they travel from victim to victim, blizzards accompany the Windigo to help them hide from the sight of their victims. The Windigo are clever hunters – it knows how to keep out of sight. One of the favorite hunting methods of the Windigo is to run its prey into a tree, over a cliff, or to exhaustion, where upon it will pounce on the person. It may or may not kill its victim (by ripping out vital organs in seconds) before it begins to eat. Another Windigo hunting technique involves the use of the Windigo’s voice – the Windigo has a scream that paralyzes its intended meal so that it cannot escape. When full and well fed, packs of Windigo have been seen playing catch with human skulls. It is a remorselessbeast that will even devour its own family.
In the land of Cree and Ojibwa, some Windigo are believed to have once been normal human beings who have become possessed cannibals. The Windigo can ‘infect’ other humans (somewhat like the Werewolf), and therein lies the unique power suggested in the double meaning of its name. The root word is Algonkian for both “evil spirit” and “cannibal”, so Windigo describes both the spirit-animal and a way of acting like one. Any person possessed by this cannibal spirit has literally become a Windigo and is probably incurable. Some people choose this transformation, others happen upon it. The latter cases are caused by being bitten, by dreaming of the Windigo, or by being involuntarily transformed by an evil sorcerer. ‘Voluntary Windigo’ are individuals who go into the forest, fast for several days, and offer their flesh freely to the species. A Windigo may adopt such a person as its own child. The possessed human grows a heart of ice, has a craving for raw human flesh, and behaves like the spirit-animal itself, although he never gets to be as large as the supernatural being.
The only know way to avert Windigo possession is to throw excrement at the creature. This confuses it enough for a small window of escape. If this method doesn’t work, the next choice is to go immediately to a local shaman. If he can not help, the last resort is to kill the possessed person, cut the body into pieces, and burn it to kill the spirit so that it does not infect others. Some say a silver bullet can also be affective.