werewolf, werewolves and lycans

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In Search of Monsters: Wendigo

This Travel Channel series is fun, but it doesn’t exactly hold up under scientific scrutiny. Anyone who survives an attack by a Wendigo, the narrator tells us, is cursed to become a Wendigo too—just moments after they feature testimony from a woman who survived an attack by a Wendigo but did NOT turn into a Wendigo. (Maybe she just hasn’t transformed into a Wendigo *yet*?) The recreations of the monster are good, though—good and creepy. And having a Native American scholar there to assure us that the Wendigo is real adds to the effect.

The story of Swift Runner, the most infamous case associated with the Wendigo legend, is a prerequisite for the subject, and is briefly covered, as is the case of “Wendigo Psychosis” suffered by reputed modern-day human “wendigos.”

It is easy to understand how the Wendigo came to exist as a psychological archetype. Peoples suffering from starvation due to extremely brutal winters would certainly have known cases of cannibalism. The Wendigo became the personification of that real-world horror. But might there really be a literal Wendigo, too, some kind of supernatural monster that stepped in to become the symbol, embodying it? It’s easy enough to scoff, or to be clinical and “civilized” in our appraisal of the phenomenon. Right up until you find yourself stranded alone in the northern woods during frigid weather, and the howling of the wind sounds almost like a living thing…


The Evil Cheezman • May 17, 2019


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