Zombie Monday Madness; Johnny Depp and the Wendigo

Sunday, July 14, 2013




 

Creature Feature: The Wendigo


The image of the living dead is prevelant in many cultures, from ancient Slavic to Native American folklore. One creature which may or may not be considered the living dead is the Native American wendigo.

The wendigo, sometimes spelled windigo, is described in a variety of ways. It can be an animal-like creature that hunts humans who wander too deep into the forest or it can be a human being who has become cannibalistic. The wendigo syndrome, generally considered a culture-bound psychosis, has its roots in the northern United States and Canada. Snowed-in during harsh winters, there are some historic records of humans becoming cannibalistic--going wendigo. This notion of a human going wendigo also has a more metaphysical definition. There are some accounts of wendigoism wherein a person is overcome by an dark spirit that cause a human to crave human flesh. That sounds pretty zombie-like to me! In fact, in Vol 1 of  work, "The Harvesting Series," a shape-changer causally mentions to Layla that her kind has finally gone wendigo.
The wendigo has other mythology surrounding it that relates in some regards to the modern incarnations of slenderman. There are many Native American folktales stemming from the Northern tribes wherein a slim man with a tophat or a slim creature is seen sliding in-between trees, watching humans from afar. Creepy. The wendigo has also made appearances in popular fiction from early works by Algeron Blackwood, to Stephen King, to reference in the recent production of "The Lone Ranger."  

Did anyone watch this movie?
Yahoo Movies explains the connection: 
"For Tonto, Cavendish is more than just a villain, he's a powerful evil presence. Tonto believes he is a "Wendigo," which is a cannibalistic demon in some Native American legends that can transform into or possess the body of a human. Tonto tells John Reid that being a Wendigo, Cavendish cannot be killed by normal means. Like other creatures in mythology — werewolves and vampires, for example — the purity of silver can break the evil magic, so Tonto gives the Ranger a single silver bullet. He'll only have one shot at ridding the West of this dangerous, and maybe even supernatural, criminal." Link.

It is fun to think of the wendigo as a werewolf like creature, but one has to wonder if such an interpretation of the original tribal meaning isn't lost in translation.

If you are interested in reading more about the wendigo, follow the below links!


Wendigo at Monsterpedia

"The Wendigo" by Algeron Blackwood  

The 1893 account of a wendigo as told by Teddy Roosevelt (yes, the President): The Wendigo

The Wendigo in Native American legend 

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2 comments:

  1. Wendigo's are also found all throughout comics, particularly in the Hulk comics.

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  2. Great to know! I haven't had the chance to dip into comics as much as I would like . . . I never would have thought of a Hulk association!

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