Friday, May 15, 2015

The Wendigo - Creature Research

I write animal fiction. Occasionally, I use mythological or legendary creatures that don't exist in the real world. Understanding these creatures requires research.

And so, today, I present you some of the results of my research.

Long time readers of my blog might remember me introducing the character Darvin Wendigo, an anthropomorphic stag and an important side character in The Stolen Defender.

Darvin, along with his brother Roscoe, get their last name from the legendary creature the Wendigo.

The Wendigo is a Native American, specifically Algonquian, legend about a half beast demon creature with an insatiable lust for human flesh. While the Wendigo has lots of different physical forms in legend, the most popular modern interpretation is a stag... and not a pretty stag at at that.

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They're usually depicted with grotesquely long arms and legs, ribs showing, and blood everywhere. Their skulls and bones show through too, as Wendigos will often eat their own lips or fingertips trying to satiate their bloodlust. They are also soulless. And ironic twist in my stories, since I have soulless characters. XD

Basically, according to legend, anyone who eats human flesh, in other words, cannibals, becomes a Wendigo. Wendigos were evil spirits that possessed cannibals.

Most of the native American tribes that had Wendigo legends were in cold, wintery areas in Canada and North America, so some speculate that the legend was created to reinforce the taboo of cannibalism even in times when it was difficult to find food. These tribes taught that there is NO excuse for cannibalism, even to survive. Instead, if you're starving and can't stand it anymore, you should resign yourself to your fate or kill yourself.

Wendigos were supposed to embody death as well. To be a Wendigo is not a pretty thing.

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If a Wendigo decides to victimize you, you literally cannot escape. Apparently, some legends say it can cross space and time to find its victims. So don't eat people. Srsly.

The Wendigo legend still exists in modern society and some people have reported on Reddit that they grew up with legends of the Wendigo. According to Reddit posters, you could hear a Wendigo's heartbeat far away, and they're super strong.

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Wendigos have a lot of modern interpretations. There are several movies and TV shows depicting Wendigos in all forms. Grimm, Supernatural, The X-Files and Teen Wolf have all had episodes with Wendigos. A horror film from 2001 called "Wendigo" used Wendigos as the primary monster. Even My Little Pony used a form of Wendigos called "Windigos" that thrived on conflict and anger and created huge storms.

Marvel Comics even has a form of Wendigo in their X-Men mutant character by the same name.

But Wendigos have other modern interpretations as well. There is a psychological disorder known as "Wendigo Psychosis." Sufferers of this condition lust for human flesh even when other sources of food are available. Some people speculate that it's a form of "cabin fever" and paranoia that occurs when there is a small group of people in close quarters with one another for too long.

Wendigo Psychosis is not common anymore, but in some extreme cases, such as cannibalism as a survival method, it can still happen.

What does this have to do with the beloved Wendigo brothers of The Stolen Defender? Nothing really, other than the fact that I like the name and associate with stags, so I took it. XD Don't worry though. They don't become crazy soulless monsters thirsting for flesh. . .

Or do they?

What do you guys think of the Wendigo? What other creatures would you like me to research? Comment below!

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