Windigo in the News

The Anomalist points us to this article on windigo murder cases.  For those not in the know, the windigo (or wendigo or witiko) is a hideous cannibalistic (anthropophagic, if you want to get technical) giant from Cree and Ojibwa.  People were believed to transform into windigo due to curses, to spending long periods of time alone in the woods, and to eating human flesh.

Most horror fans are familiar with the windigo via Algernon Blackwood’s short story, or through Derleth’s inclusion of it in the Cthulhu Mythos as Ithaqua, or even the movie Ravenous.  Few, save the last, have actually dealt with the phenomena of windigo psychosis, in which a person from one of these cultures believes they are being transformed into a windigo, expresses the wish to eat others, and begs for death.

The article doesn’t note that the reality of windigo psychosis is under debate, especially by Lou Marano.  No cases have taken place since 1930; if you read between the lines in the article above, you can see that evidence the guy was a windigo comes down to his friends saying they thought he was.  The question is still open as to whether it still exists – saying, “I went back years later and did the same fieldwork and didn’t find what the last person did,” is not always the best argument, though it tends to get trotted out in popular debates on anthropology.  Remind me to rant about that later.

For those who are wondering where they can find lots of windigo and windigo psychosis folklore and stories with a map of locations, I highly recommend Morton Teicher’s Windigo Psychosis, which is so OOP that you’ll be lucky to find it outside a library.  As sometimes volumes in series are difficult to find, try this one if you can’t find the title in the first one.  It’s the 1960 volume.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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