Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Dybbuk

The Dybbuk is a type of malicious ghost hailing from Jewish folklore. The word dybbuk itself is derived from the ancient Hebrew language, meaning "to cleave to" or "to stick to." According to Jewish tradition, there are some souls so evil or that have committed such grievous sins during their life that they are unable to enter Heaven or Hell upon death. Instead, demons torment the spirits by with flaming whips and force these damned souls to wander endlessly all over the earth. Sometimes, these evil souls manage to temporarily escape their tormentors. Dybbuk are predominantly male, but they prefer to possess young women.

The Dybbuk is said to be able to possess any living or inanimate object. Although the spirit can possess animals, it prefers human hosts. Dybbuk possession may prove to be too much for the unfortunate animal, which may die of "natural causes" or a frantic attemp to drive out the invading spirit shortly afterwards. When the Dybbuk possesses a human, it absolutely refuses to leave. This person may be a total stranger, merely the best and the most convenient host the spirit could find. Legends tell of these spirits inhabiting horses and then jumping into the stable boy.

However, the Dybbuk can be exorcised. Certain magical or biblical verses may force the spirit to leave, but it is of the utmost importance that the Dybbuk be cooperative, or the host may possibly be hurt, perhaps even fatally. A rabbi experienced in this sort of exorcism must be found, who then must come to an agreement with the spirit. This may simply be a shortened duration of stay with the demons or an expiation of crimes and sins that will enable to possessing spirit to enter Heaven or Hell. However, if the exorcism isn't done in the right way, the host may be harmed or killed. If successful, the Dybbuk will be forced to evacuate the body from under the nail of the big toe, as this is where the least amount of damage will be caused to the host. Some Dybbuk remain silent in their hosts, usually without being detected for a long period of time. The host may act out of character at times, but in general the spirit tries its hardest to be quiet and remain secretive. Some are more forceful in asserting their presence: speaking from the host's mouth, speaking in languages unknown to the host, possessing knowledge that the host shouldn't even know, or even speaking in an entirely different voice. Some are arrogant, usually making demands and claiming that they can't be forced to leave. The most powerful of Dybbuks may require several exorcists, and more than one exorcism may be required to cast out the possessing spirit.


Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright ©2009 by Judika Illes.

The Adlet

The Adlet is wolflike creature from Inuit folklore and legend that is similar to a Werewolf, feeding on human flesh and especially enjoying the taste of human blood.

The wild regions of Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, and all lands to the north.


The Adlet is purely carnivorous, feeding only on the flesh and blood of other animals. Capable of surviving on any kind of food (including roots, fungi, and various types of vegetation), the creature will only eat these things if its preferred food is not to be had. Above all, the Adlet prefers human flesh and blood to anything else. The bones of the creature’s victims are cracked open and the marrow sucked out.


The Adlet very much resembles the classic Werewolf, although the Adlet is not a shapeshifter. The creature is covered in red fur, possessing sharp talons on its hands and feet, and has a mouthful of daggerlike teeth. They have other lupine features as well, including pronounced snouts, pointed ears, long tails, and eerie yellow eyes.


The Adlet is a merciless killer, stalking its prey in packs through the wilderness of the northern-most regions of America and well into Canada. As mentioned earlier, the Adlet will feed on anything in desperation. However, the Adlet prefers to drink the warm blood of a newly-slain human (it also eats the flesh with an equal amount of relish). The Adlet may be feral, but it is also cunning. The creature itself is only slightly smarter than the average wolf, perhaps being closer in intelligence to some of the lower primates.

The Adlet hunts in large packs, attempting to overwhelm prey through sheer strength of numbers. The leader, an Alpha male that can be identified easily because it is larger and more ferocious than the others, leads the pack. The pack’s approach is marked by their piercing, mournful howls. This paralyzes the creature’s prey with fear, making them easier to subdue. The prey’s death is slow and extremely painful, the Adlet’s strong, bone-crushing jaws reducing the victim to an unrecognizable pulp. Then a bloody, gut-churning feast follows. The only thing that the Adlet truly fears is fire. The creature is deathly afraid of an open flame, and will only attack a torch-wielding Hunter when on the verge of starvation. Also, when the pack leader is killed, the rest of the pack will usually flee. However, this isn’t always the case…


The Adlet possesses a supernatural degree of strength, agility, endurance, and speed. The creature’s senses (especially the senses of sight, smell, and hearing) are extremely acute. The Adlet is able to see clearly in the dark, can smell a fresh human corpse from a mile away, and can hear the approach of the stealthy hunter.

As well as the creature’s physical abilities, the Adlet is immune to conventional forms of injury. The creature heals any wounds that are not caused by silver or fire very quickly.


Although powerful, the Adlet is susceptible to silver and fire (which the Adlet themselves find to be horrifying). The creature is not known to have any other weaknesses. It is likely that these creatures can be slain by decapitation, although engaging such a dangerous beast in a close-quarters fight is a highly dangerous undertaking and is not recommended.

Slaying the Adlet

As mentioned above, the only way to kill the Adlet is with fire or silver (preferably both). It is advisable, when hunting the Adlet, to travel in a small group, with each individual well-armed. The equipment carried should include multiple torches, large amounts of flint, lighter fluid, matches, food, water, sleeping bags, and other such equipment. It is also advised to dress as warmly as possible without hindering movement. Several rifles (loaded with silver bullets) and at least one silver dagger (per individual, an expensive undertaking) should be carried as self-defense (as the Canadian monster known as the Wendigo also dwells in this region). Be sure to bring plenty of ammunition, as well as a silvered knife or a sword (preferably the latter).

If one should be confronted by a pack, immediately light several torches and build a big fire. Wave the torches at any of the approaching Adlet (hit the creatures if necessary), while another individual readies his rifle and fires several rounds into the chest of the leader (again, the largest and most vicious of the creatures). If the leader dies, the others will usually flee. However, if this is not the case, prepare for a fight to the death.


The Adlet is a wolflike monster that prowls the cold northern reaches of this country. The creatures first appeared several centuries ago, when they began to hunt the Inuit (Eskimos). According to Inuit mythology, the Adlet were born when a beautiful Inuit woman, living on the shores of Hudson Bay, married a gigantic red dog with great supernatural powers. The odd couple made love passionately, and eventually the woman became pregnant. Nine months later, she gave birth to ten children. The first five were small, beautiful puppies in the image of their father. However, the other five were ferocious hybrids that were a combination of the worst traits of both parents.

The Adlet grew into adults within a matter of hours, and then proceeded to try to kill their mother. The monstrous father attacked and managed to route the Adlet, but not without being mortally wounded himself. After her husband’s death, the mourning widow fled to Hudson Bay’s shores, where she set her five puppies adrift on a large piece of wood. The pups sailed across the ocean, eventually landing on the coasts of what is now Europe. There, they too married humans and gave birth to a race of pale-skinned humans who would return to Hudson Bay centuries later. Meanwhile, the Adlet took to hiding in the wilderness, where the creatures mated and multiplied.

To this day, the Adlet still roam the cold wilderness, beginning in Quebec and Newfoundland, and extending well into the farthest northern reaches of Greenland. However, the chief habitat of the Adlet is on the shores of Hudson Bay, but there are a number of these monsters in Labrador. The Adlet are known to the Inuit tribes in the area, as well as those living in the surrounding regions west of Hudson Bay.

Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Monsters: Everything You Need To Know About Encountering Over 100 Terrifying Creatures In The Wild. New York: Three Rivers Press. Copyright ©1998 by W. Haden Blackman.

Monster of the Week: The Adlet

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Ghoul

The Ghoul is an undead creature found in Arabic folklore and legend, most significantly in The One Thousand and One Nights, which makes the earliest known references to these foul creatures. The Ghoul commonly feeds on the flesh of corpses, but it is more than willing to kill in order to make a fresh meal.

Other Names

The Ghoul doesn't have many variant names, but among those few are Ghul, the Hungry Dead, algul, grave-creature, coffin-fiend, giggling zombie. The word ghoul itself is derived from the Arabic ghul, which literally means “demon” or "to seize."


For the most part, the Ghoul tends to haunt cemeteries, where there is an innumerable amount of corpses to feed on. The creature may also haunt the desert, abandoned oases, and the sites of old battlefields, or other remote places, where the creature can attack and eat its victims without being disturbed.


The Ghoul is completely anthropophagous, feasting nightly on the flesh of living or recently-deceased humans. However, the creature prefers to attack the living if it can do so with minimal risk to itself. Although the Ghoul will dig up a corpse to satisfy its hunger, it is a misconception that this is the creature’s preference.


The Ghoul vaguely resembles the person it was in life, in regards to both overall size and shape. The creature tends to be gaunt and leanly muscular in appearance, having long, lanky arms and short, thin legs. The creature’s hands and feet end in razor-sharp talons. The Ghoul has bulging jaundice-yellow eyes and a large mouth filled with rows of sharp, needlelike teeth. The creature’s skin is thick and ranges from sickly yellow to light gray in color. The Ghoul appears either completely naked or wearing the tattered remains of whatever clothing it was wearing when it died.


The Ghoul is a cowardly form of the Undead, although still dangerous nonetheless. For this reason, the Ghoul is not a solitary predator by nature, but tends to hunt in packs of three to twelve at a time. It prefers to hunt under the cover of darkness, due once again to the fact that the creature is cowardly and shy. If hunting alone, it will lure a child or a sickly adult into the darkness with strange noises or some other means. Once it has the intended victim in it’s clutches, it savagely kills them by cutting the victim’s throat with a savage swipe of its talons or by stoning them to death. If it cannot find a living victim, it will settle for digging up and feeding on a newly-interred corpse. According to some legends, if a battle has occurred near its domain, it may use its power to shapeshift to appear as a healer to the wounded, and will then proceed to attack them in that form.

For the most part, the Ghoul isn’t very intelligent, and seems to be incapable of speech (the only exceptions being growls or hissing). It is a predatory, animalistic killer, although the creature seems to have an understanding of simple tools. This revenant is driven entirely by instinct and its never-ending hunger for human flesh. When confronted, the Ghoul will growl and hiss to frighten away intruders or, failing that, will attempt to escape by fleeing into the darkness or burrowing into a grave. However, the Ghoul will fight if cornered, viciously slashing with its talons and tearing with its teeth. The creature’s sheer speed and agility make it very difficult to strike or injure the Ghoul.

As mentioned earlier, it is a misconception that the Ghoul prefers the flesh of recently-dead humans. This comes from the fact that, most of the time, the creature chooses to feed on fresh corpses because it is both an easy source of food for the creature to procure and it can do so without any risk to itself. The Ghoul actually prefers living flesh, and if given an opportunity with little risk to itself, it will certainly take its chances. The creature is intelligent enough to understand simple tactics, knowing when it is outnumbered and when to flee if defeat is imminent. The Ghoul will only attack a healthy, strong individual if the undead are greater in number.


Although the Ghoul is one of the weakest of the Undead, it isn’t wise to underestimate the creature. According to Arabic legend, the Ghoul possesses supernatural strength, while other sources say that the creature possesses the same degree of strength that it had in life. Either way, it is still enough to overpower the Ghoul’s chosen prey. In addition, the Ghoul possesses a supernatural degree of speed and agility. The creature is agile enough to climb sheer walls as quickly as the revenant can run, and the Ghoul is extremely difficult to escape from on foot. It has heightened senses of sight, smell, and hearing. The creature can see clearly in the darkness, and can smell living or dead flesh from up to a mile away. The Ghoul can hear footsteps from several yards away, alerting it to intruders and a potential meal. The Ghoul itself excels in stealth, moving quickly and quietly from one shadow to another in pursuit of its prey. Again, according to Arab folklore, the Ghoul is a shapeshifter, able to take on the form of a hyena at will. Although weak in comparison to other forms of the Undead, the Ghoul is not without its weapons. The creature’s fingers are tipped with razor-sharp black talons, which the revenant finds useful for tearing flesh from the bodies of its victims, digging quickly into burial plots, and for rending the flesh of intruders. The Ghoul’s claws are sharp enough to rend wood, stone, and even soft metals, as well as cloth and thick leather. Inside the creature’s mouth are several rows of needle-sharp teeth, allowing the creature to deliver an extremely painful, disfiguring bite. To make matters worse, the Ghoul’s bite is disease-ridden, causing the unfortunate individual to waste away and die within a few days. At midnight, the victim will rise as one of the undead. In addition to its bite, powerful claws, and pestilential bite, the Ghoul is immune to pain and aging and is unaffected by drugs, toxins, or volatile gases. It is immune to extreme cold, and while the Ghoul can be injured using blades or firearms, these weapons cannot kill the creature. The Ghoul has incredible regenerative capabilities, enabling the creature to withstand large-caliber firearms and even small explosives.

The Ghoul is especially dangerous in large numbers, despite the creature’s cowardice. A pack of four ghouls can devour a full-grown man in less than five minutes, leaving nothing but the bones, which are then taken back to the creatures’ lair to be broken open and the marrow extracted.


The Ghoul, while feral and cunning, does have its share of vulnerabilities. Since the Ghoul is nocturnal by nature, the creature is unable to tolerate strong light sources, most notably sunlight or artificial light. However, neither causes the Ghoul any real harm. Instead, exposure tends to disorientate and confuse the creature. Sunlight has the strongest effect on the Ghoul, drastically reducing its strength and speed, ultimately weakening the creature enough for a killing stroke. This would be advantageous to the cunning Hunter, especially when there are large numbers of the ghouls.

Slaying the Ghoul

The Ghoul, like many members of the undead, is highly vulnerable to fire. This is the best way to destroy this unholy flesh-eater, but the blaze must be hot enough to reduce the creature to ashes, completely beyond the point of any hope of regeneration. There are a few methods available, including electrocution, incendiary devices, and even concentrated acid will work. Decapitation is a highly effective and proven method of destruction for many monsters, and this applies to the Ghoul as well. Once incapacitated (perhaps by exposure to ultraviolet rays), the Ghoul should be decapitated with a single stroke and then burned to ashes, which should be scattered to the winds.

It is highly likely that the Ghoul can be harmed and slain by blessed weapons, silver, holy water, and other such things. This seems likely because the Ghoul is one of the Devil’s own, and cannibalism is a mortal sin in the eyes of God. Therefore, one shouldn’t be surprised if such a weapon proves to be highly efficacious.


The Ghoul is a ravenous, anthropophagous (man-eating) species of the Undead. It is one of the weakest of the living dead next to the Zombie, but like the Zombie, it often attacks in packs. Such a group of these creatures can quickly overwhelm a full-grown man.

How the Ghoul is created is subject to debate among folklorists. Some say that a human must drink the blood of a Vampire, but in turn cannot be drained of blood by the Vampire itself. The human then dies as a result of the tainted blood, which destroys the human body. At midnight, the human rises from his mortal death, not as a Vampire, but as a Ghoul. This produces a loyal, totally obedient servant that must consume human flesh for survival. In order to keep the creature’s body from decomposing, the Ghoul’s vampiric master must allow the creature to feed on its blood every few weeks. Most folklorists dismiss this as a fictional creation.

However, folklorists seem to agree that one of the most common ways to become a Ghoul is to be bitten by one of the creatures and survive. The victim is struck down by a wasting disease that is known to some folklorists as “ghoul fever.” The victim succumbs to total bodily paralysis within twenty-four hours of being attacked. Over the next twenty-four hours to a week (the debate over the amount of time it actually takes to become one of these creatures is vigorously debated by experts), the unfortunate individual wastes away and dies, rising at midnight the next night as one of the Undead, doomed to roam the night forever in search of fresh human flesh.

According to Arabic folklore, there is yet another way to become a Ghoul. In Muslim folklore, a sinner (most often a prostitute, since the Ghoul tends to be predominantly female in that part of the world) who has not lived their lives according to God’s laws is denied paradise when the individual dies, and is forced to roam the earth for eternity, feeding on the flesh of humans unfortunate enough to fall into the revenant’s clawed hands.

The Ghoul is the living dead, embodying the multi-cultural taboo against cannibalism. While weak, the Ghoul is still dangerous when confronted. Do not underestimate this creature!


Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp. Copyright ©2006 by Jonathan Maberry.

The Rakshasa

The Rakshasa is a terrifying, bloodlusting demon from Indian mythology and legend. It has a ravenous hunger for human blood and flesh, and it is feared by all.


The word rakshasa (feminine Rakshasi) itself literally means “destroyer” or “injurer” in the Indian language.


The Rakshasa appears as a huge, misshapen human, having fiery red eyes and abnormally long tongues. Their bodies are covered with bristlelike hair. Other features include yellow or red matted hair and beards, horns, a fat belly, slitlike eyes, and as is typical of Indian mythology, an unusual number of limbs or perhaps even a single eye. Some wear a wreath of intestines about their necks, and the skin color of this creature varies, usually being black, green, blue, or yellow.


The Rakshasa is a species of asuras (demon) from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. This vampiric demon comes out to hunt for human prey at night, especially during the new moon and the dark of the moon (as their demonic powers increase at nightfall). These creatures are evil to the core and extremely hostile to mankind. It preys on humans who are more vulnerable, usually children and women (preferably during the woman’s wedding).

The Rakshasa’s eating habits are, in a single word, disgusting. They eat human flesh and drink the blood (usually using a skull as a cup), devour excrement (apparently, they consume the life essence of an individual through this act), and they consume food that has been tainted in some way or another (i.e. having been sneezed upon, walked on, or soiled by bugs. The creature also endlessly roams the forest, preying upon the wildlife in a vain effort to satiate its unending hunger. Their talons are poisoned, and it is said that a human who is merely touched by a Rakshasa will die. A Rakshasa’s attack will devastate villages and destroy entire communities, most often in a single night. Although it prefers human flesh, the creature will also slaughter and devour the livestock (most often horses and cattle, which are essential to the Indian way of life).

The Rakshasa prefers to dwell in dark, secluded locations, namely the jungles, wooded areas, and deep forests. When the creature walks about, it howls eerily and constantly look from side to side in search of prey to satisfy their never-ending bloodlust. Unusually for a demon, the Rakshasa likes to haunt temples and other places of worship, reveling in disrupting the prayers of humans. The creature enjoys disrupting sacrifices and desecrating graves as well.


The Rakshasa possesses a supernatural degree of strength, able to tear a man apart with ease. It is also a shapeshifter and, although it may become almost anything or anyone, it prefers to become a dog, a vulture, an owl, an eagle, or a cuckoo. However, the creature can also assume human form, usually becoming a woman of unnatural beauty and sexual power (a disguise the Rakshasa uses to seduce men and then devour them). They may also masquerade as a dwarf, a husband, or a lover. The creature is also a gifted sorcerer, and uses dark magic to wreak havoc on its victims. It is able to take possession of humans, usually when they are eating or drinking, causing either illness or madness (or perhaps both). The Rakshasa has the power to reanimate the corpses of the recently dead, turning them into revenants. This demon may also become invisible at will. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to attack.


Despite its formidable abilities, the Rakshasa can be repulsed or even killed. One ritual calls for eating a bowl of porridge or rice pudding that had been boiled over a bird’s nest. Supposedly, the smell will somehow placate the demon. Like many demonic creatures, many Rakshasa (but not all) are slow-witted and able to be outsmarted by humans. Although clever and extremely powerful, the Rakshasa may be destroyed by burning it, and fire will repulse and drive it away. Meditation, prayer, or quoting certain Holy Scriptures may upset the Rakshasa and drive them away for a time, but the creature will return sooner or later. According to some legends, the Rakshasa may be banished by simply saying “Uncle”.

Sunlight is another vulnerability, although forcing the creature into the daylight is another matter altogether. However, some legends say that the Rakshasa can be killed with a dagger forged of pure brass. But, the catch is that the dagger must pierce the heart. The last resort is an exorcism. The exorcism involves the burning of certain sacred herbs and chanting holy names. However, this exorcism is known only to a few select holy men. But identifying the Rakshasa in another form is (like it is with all shapeshifters) a difficult challenge. The exorcist must be both highly trained and very experienced (not to mention having to be either very brave or very stupid). An improperly-performed exorcism will lead to a bloody, painful death for all humans involved.


Hindu mythology holds that the Rakshasa were created by Brahma to protect the sea from those who would steal the elixir of immortality. Over time, however, the Rakshasa devolved into demons that desired nothing more than to satisfy their own hungers and desires. Now, it is believed that a Rakshasa can be created if a child is forced to consume human brains. A curse will have the same result. Some legends hold that the Rakshasa were once humans who had been extremely evil during their lifetime and as a result are reincarnated into monstrous, demonic forms as a punishment for their wickedness.


Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Vampires & Werewolves (Second Edition). New York: Checkmark Books. Copyright ©2011, 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.

The Black Dog

The Black Dog is a malevolent spirit that appears as a huge coal-black dog, with eyes that glow red in the darkness of the night. It is a harbinger of death, as those who are unfortunate enough to see the creature usually meet misfortune or death soon after.

The Black Dog is known throughout Europe, and is known by a great many names. Among these are Black Shuck (the most common name), Old Shuck, Hellbeast, Barghest, Mauthe Dhoog, Shug Monkey, Churchyard Beast, Skriker, Hateful Thing, Whisht Hound, Swooning Shadow, Galleytrot, Black Dog of Torrington, Hellhound, Yeth Hound, Snarly Yow, Gytrash, Trash, Black Angus, Gwyllgi, Striker, Tchi-Co, Spectre-Hound, Gurt Dog, Barguest, Padfoot, Thost Dog, Hairy Jack, Glassensyke, Cappel, Capelthwaite, Le Tchan de Bouole, Cu Sith, Dog of Darkness, Hooter, Muckle Black Tyke, Farvann. The name Shuck is derived from the English word shucky, which means “shaggy.” However, the origins for the name go back to Anglo-Saxon times, where he was known as scucca or sceocca, meaning “demon” or “Satan.” In general, this section speaks of Black Dogs and the archetypal Black Dog, Black Shuck.

The Black Dog roams the English countryside, stalking lonely roads at night. He hunts for travelers, intending the deliver their souls to his dark master. While he has never actually harmed anyone, eyewitnesses are usually never the same again afterwards. He usually disappears completely after an encounter. He moves in utter silence, leaving no prints behind whatsoever. Travelers have sworn to feel the spirit’s chilling breath on the backs of their necks, and the Black Dog’s eerie howls rise above the winds on stormy nights, sending a terrifying chill through the bodies of those who hear it. It is said that the Black Dog is harmless as long as he is left alone.

The Black Dog frequents the woods, country areas, and coastlines of England. He has been known to inhabit graveyards, marshes, and the hills surrounding villages, but the Black Dog especially inhabits lonely roads, crossroads, ancient ruins, and bridges (the places representing the transitional phases in human life). He is said to guard the tombs of those who died tragically, and to keep watch over places where treasure is said to be hidden.

The Black Dog is described as a huge demonic dog, with shaggy fur as black as the night. However, shades of gray, yellow, or even white are not unheard of. He is larger than most large dogs, to the point where he is frequently said to be the size of a calf. The Black Dog’s most frightening features are his glowing, fiery red eyes (although from time to time, the eyes are said to be yellow or green). Sometimes, he is said to have only one eye. He is lean and muscular, his padded feet ending in sharp, black claws. Occasionally, the black dog is headless, yet two red orbs float right where the spirit’s eyes should be, much to the horror of eyewitnesses. He has been described as wearing a collar of chains, which rattle loudly as the spirit walks along.

The Black Dog possesses many supernatural abilities, as a result of his demonic origins. While insubstantial under normal circumstances, the Black Dog is able to assume a corporeal form. In this form, the Black Dog possesses supernatural strength and endurance. He is able to breathe hellfire in either form, burning his victims’ souls. The Black Dog is able to deliver a powerful bite and inflict scorching gashes with his black claws.

The Black Dog is a harbinger of death, and those who are unfortunate enough to encounter the spirit are fated to die or meet with great misfortune within a year’s time. Looking into the Black Dog’s fiery eyes means certain death within a year, and attacking the Black Dog will bring about fatal consequences. The spirit is able to induce feelings of overwhelming terror in a victim through his malicious glare alone, oftentimes causing total bodily paralysis (although this effect is only temporary). If attacked, the Black Dog is able to inflict savage, excruciatingly painful wounds, which are slow to heal (if the wounds heal at all). He seems able to predict the deaths of people, often appearing before someone dies and howling when someone is knocking at death’s door.

The Black Dog is seemingly impervious to physical attacks. Bullets, blades, and fists pass through the spirit’s ethereal body completely. He is exceptionally intelligent, able to anticipate the actions of eyewitnesses and counter them (in one instance, an attacker who tried to kick the Black Dog found his foot in the spirit’s mouth). He is able to dematerialize and disappear at will, as well as render himself completely invisible. Travelers can still feel the Black Dog’s sinister presence, even if he has disappeared.

Although the Black Dog is seemingly unable to be physically harmed, he may in fact have a few vulnerabilities. Most evil spirits cannot abide the presence or the touch of cold iron (that is, iron that has been forged without heat). Theoretically, a weapon forged of cold iron would be able to inflict great amounts of damage on the Black Dog. Silver could possibly have the same effect (silver is yet another metal feared by supernatural evil). Since the Black Dog is said to be a servant of the Devil, blessed weapons and religious icon would hypothetically be able to harm or repel the Black Dog. However, as mentioned earlier, attacking the Black Dog could potentially have fatal consequences.

There are few methods of keeping the Black Dog at bay. Salt, reviled and hated by demons and spirits for its purity and supernatural properties, may keep the Black Dog away or prevent him from attacking. He may be able to be exorcised, but this method is lengthy and complicated, and depending on the strength of the spirit, may or may not work at all. Like mentioned earlier, religious icons (such as the crucifix) may be able to keep the Black Dog at bay, as long as the strength of one’s faith is totally focused into the task.

Exactly how the Black Dog came to be is lost to the annals of folklore and legend. Innumerable sightings and encounters have been reported and documented, but they are too lengthy to list right at this moment. This much, however, is known: the Black Dog is the demonic servant of the Evil One, manifesting himself on this plane of existence to do Satan’s bidding.

The Banshee

The Banshee is a type of faerie ghost that is found in both Irish and Scottish folklore. According to legend, she lets out an ear-piercing wail when a member of the family to which she is attached is about to die.The Banshee is a spirit of the dead, a harbinger of death. Originating from the Celtic lore of Ireland and Scotland, the Banshee is said to come into existence when a woman dies while giving birth. This tortured soul, unable to cherish the new life of her child, becomes restless in the grave. She is preordained by unknown forces to warn others of impending death, especially violent deaths.

The Banshee goes by many different names, according to regional folklore and culture. Bean Sidhe, Badbh, Bean Chaointe, Baoban Sith (actually another species altogether), Ban Nighechain, Bean Nighe, Caointeach, Washer of the Shrouds, Washer at the Banks, Washer at the Ford, Cyhiraeth, Cyoerraeth, Gwrach y Rhibyn, Eur-Cunnere Noe, Kannerez-Noz. The word banshee itself comes from the Gaelic term bean sidhe (pronounced “bane shee”), which means “woman of the mounds.”

The Banshee is said to inhabit the hills and highlands of Ireland and Scotland, and this spirit has been seen in France and Germany as well. The Banshee has been known to attach itself to certain families, following them anywhere. This spirit has even been reported in America. Basically, if one looks hard enough, she can be found just about anywhere.

The Banshee’s appearance seems to vary quite a bit. Some legends say that she is a hag, having fiery red eyes (from constantly weeping) and long, flowing white hair, wearing a gray cloak over a green dress (a faerie color). Other legends say that the Banshee appears as a beautiful woman dressed in white (the color of death) with long, luscious red hair. Although beautiful, the Banshee’s face is veiled in mourning.

The Banshee attaches herself to certain families, doomed to foretell the deaths of the each member of that family. However, the Banshee does not wail, contrary to popular belief. Instead, she sings or weeps loudly when she senses impending death. Although the Banshee isn’t necessarily evil, she is feared by both the Irish and the Scottish because of her association with death and impending doom. They dread her haunting cries, and it is said that those who are about to die can hear her cries, no matter where they are in the world. However, the people appreciate the warning ahead of time.

The Banshee is a spirit, having no corporeal form to speak of. Thus, she is impervious to physical attacks. Furthermore, she is able to disappear and become invisible at will. Her incorporeal form allows her to pass through physical barriers with ease.

As mentioned previously, the Banshee is able to foretell of impending death, singing and weeping with such a sad tone that the people are unable to mistake the dire warning that she conveys. However, it is possible that the Banshee’s touch could have a dangerous, perhaps even fatal, effect on the living. However, this has never been proven, as she seems to be a pacifistic spirit.

While the Banshee is unable to be physically harmed or killed, she may possess a few weaknesses. A blade of cold iron (that is, iron that has been shaped without heat) could possibly hurt her, although this is only a theory derived from the spirit’s association with faeries. Salt repels the Banshee, as it is considered to be pure and anathema to the denizens of the spirit world. Any other methods of protecting oneself from the Banshee are unknown at this point.

Another, more malevolent version of the Banshee is the Bean Nighe, the “Little Washer by the Ford.” She is a hideous old hag who, like the Banshee, died in childbirth and went mad with grief. She is forever doomed to wash the bloodstained clothes of those who are about to die. She appears as a hideous old crone with glaring red eyes, a single sharpened front tooth, a single large nostril, large and pendulous sagging breasts, and great clawed webbed feet. Most legends say that she is a cannibalistic flesh-eater, but some brave adventurers seek her out for help. According to legend, if a hero were to somehow suckle at one of her breasts, he would be rewarded. The Bean Nighe would gift him with second sight, grant a single wish, and be adopted by the creature, thus becoming her foster child and gaining her protection forever.


Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Third Edition. New York: Checkmark Books, 2007.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Wendigo

The Wendigo is a cannibalistic beast from Native American folklore and legend.

The word wendigo (pronounced wehn-dee-go) comes from the Native American Algonquian language, meaning “evil spirit that devours mankind.”

The Wendigo is known by many First Nations people across the United States and Canada, and there are at least forty known (although not all of them are listed here). Other names that the beast is known by include Windigo, Witiko, Weedigo, Weeghtako, Weeghteko, Weendigo, Wee-Tee-Go, Weetigo, Wehndigo, Wehtigo, Wendago, Wenigo, Wentigo, Wentiko, Wetigo, Whit-Te-Co, Whittico, Wiendigo, Wihtigo, Wiitiko, Windago, Windiga (possibly a female version), Windagoe, Windagoo, Windego, Wi’ndigo, Windikouk, Wintego, Wintigo, Wi’ntsigo, Wintsigo, Wi’tigo, Wittako, Wittikka, and Wihtikow (seeing any similarities here?). Tribal names for the creature include Atcen, Atschen, Cheno, Djenu, Ithaqua, Kokodje, Kokotsche, Outiko, and Vindiko.


The Wendigo inhabits the forests of the Great Lakes and Canada. The dreaded Wendigo King lives near the Windigo River in Quebec. Kenora, Ontario is thought to be the “Wendigo Capital of the World” because so many sightings and incidents have taken place there, and it attracted Wendigoes originally because it used to be tribal grounds, with many Native American settlements scattered throughout the area. Most caves, gullies, and canyons in central Canada will provide shelter for the Wendigo.

The Wendigo's territory is vast, ranging from the Canadian Rockies and the Arctic Circle in the north, to the Great Lakes regions and the Dakotas. It reigns supreme across the whole of Canada.

A Wendigo is rumored to live in the Cave of the Wendigo, near Mameigwass Lake in northern Ontario. Any other area named after the Wendigo, such as Windigo River and Windigo Lake in Ontario, is bound to be inhabited by this monster as well.


The Wendigo is a purely anthropophagous beast, hungering for human flesh constantly. It will go to any lengths to procure this food, no matter the risk or possibility of injury.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the Wendigo constantly hungers for human flesh, and no matter how much it eats, it always feels as if it is starving to death. So powerful is this hunger that the Wendigo goes forth crashing through the forests and uprooting trees, causing game animals to stampede, and causing whirlwinds. The monster is often thought to be the cause of ice storms, tornadoes, and violent weather. All of these weather-related events are believed to be signs of the creature's presence.Aside from its never-ending hunger for human flesh, the Wendigo's dirt is quite varied. It eats rotten wood, mushrooms, lichen, moss, and other plants. The beast may also hunt wild game like deer, wild boar, rodents, reptiles, birds, fish, and other animals. Like an animal, the monster always eats its food raw. However, the aforementioned foods only serve as appetizers: the Wendigo constantly craves human flesh, and it can never have enough.


The Wendigo is a terrifying beast. But because the beast is so swift, it is extremely difficult to get a good look at the monster. Most are tall, have long limbs, and are extremely thin (because they are always hungry). Most have no hair at all, but those that dwell in extremely cold climates can sometimes be found with snow-white, gore-stained fur or matted, bloody hair. Its maw is filled with sharp yellowed fangs, and its hands and feet end in razor-sharp talons. The Wendigo’s twisted lips are flecked with blood, and their long tongues are a disgusting dark blue.

The lore on the Wendigo is incredibly diverse, but all emphasize the sheer size of the beast. The beast is said to be anywhere from eight to fifteen feet in height, but the Wendigo's size alone cannot be comprehended by the human mind, and the creature's staggering size is enough to cause cardiac arrest in a healthy, full-grown man. In addition, the monster is unrelenting and the sheer rage of the beast is unending. In proportion to its great size and weight, the beast also has superhuman strength.

Regarding appearances, the Wendigo is a hideous, abhorrent creature that is extremely tall, gaunt, and skeletal in appearance, and its complexion is said to be an ashy-grey color. Its eyes are said to glow red or yellow, and are pushed deeply into their sockets. In some stories, the creature grows larger with each victim it consumes. In this way, the Wendigo is cursed never to know the satisfaction of a full stomach. Its gigantic maw is filled with long, needlelike teeth, made all the more apparent by its lack of lips, a disturbing feature that some say were lost to the Wendigo's own hunger! Through its mouth comes an evil hissing that rivals storms in volume and is said to be able to be heard for miles. The Wendigo breathes forth a cloud of odor that reeks of rancid meat and decay, causing people to flee in panic, while those who cannot escape (a very low number indeed) pass out and are devoured by the beast. This is yet another sign that the Wendigo is once again on the hunt.Although vaguely human in appearance, the Wendigo is nonetheless terribly disfigured. Its eyes are yellow and protuberant like an owl's, but they are much larger and roll about in blood (although some say that the eyes are pushed deep into the sockets, and all that one can see is the terrible yellow glow). Its body is said to be muscular, yet emaciated from its constant hunger. The beast has massive pawlike hands that end in talons that are a foot or more in length, while the creature's feet are said to be three feet long, ending with a single toe tipped with a long, daggerlike nail, which the Wendigo uses to slash and tear at its prey. Some legends state that the Wendigo has been seen to be missing some toes, perhaps due to frostbite.


The Wendigo craves human flesh and is constantly starving for it (indicated by the beast’s lean, wiry frame). The Wendigo is known to have its preferences: the sweet fat of children, the soft skin of women, the course muscles of men (especially warriors and hunters), or the brittle bones of the elderly. In preparation for long winters (when few travelers are out and about), the Wendigo will stash away large pots filled to the rim with human remains in the highest tree branches. On rare occasions, it will take humans alive and hide them away in its lair, allowing the beast to feed whenever it wants. The Wendigo is more intelligent than many humans, and thus understands the value of storing and saving its food. However, it will only resort to this when food is scarce and it becomes desperate.

When the Wendigo hunts, it stalks the victim for long periods. The chosen victim only has a dreadful feeling of being followed. However, the Wendigo has a sadistic streak. It prefers to terrify its victims before moving in for the kill. When it has had enough of stalking the victim, it lets out a growl or a shriek, which resonates through the forest and terrifies the beast’s prey. They panic, firing weapons haphazardly into the brush as the dense forest closes in on them. Eventually, the intended victim succumbs to insanity, running wildly into the forest with abandon. In such a state, they are easy prey for the Wendigo.

The Wendigo has been known to enter cabins and other dwelling, unlocking them from the outside and slaughtering the inhabitants, then proceeding to convert the cabin into its own lair. The Wendigo tends to hibernate for long periods, ranging in length from a few months to years at a time. Once they awaken, they go into a feeding frenzy, and after having eaten enough humans, it retreats to its lair and falls back into hibernation once again.

The Wendigo, besides having a taste for cannibalism and wanton murder, is usually held to be responsible for any and all possible misfortunes and disasters that could possibly befall a man. If a hunter freezes to death, if a family starves, a young man or a woman disappears on a vision quest, or one falls victim to an animal attack, the Wendigo is blamed. If a normally healthy and energetic individual suddenly becomes depressed, demented, starts to hallucinate, or even becomes senile, the Wendigo’s influences are thought to be the cause. The beast is also blamed for cold spells, bad weather, a lack of game, famine, disease, or any other natural disasters, including tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, or a sudden frost.

Although the Wendigo can be either male or female, it is predominantly male, displaying traits that are usually considered to be masculine: anger, physical aggression, and large size. The Wendigo is a solitary, fiercely territorial beast, and the Wendigo does not like to share its territory at all, even with a female. In fact, if a male and a female should actually ever meet, a brutal fight ensues, and the winner devours the loser. Either that, or the loser is burned, the icy heart is pounded into pieces, and the remains are melted in a fire.

According to some legends, it is said that the Wendigo sometimes hunts in packs with others of its kind. If so, this is only on the rarest occasion, since the Wendigo is fiercely territorial and insanely violent. Most likely, this is a trait of the once-human Wendigo, and not the beast of legend. It is said that these creatures even enjoy playing kickball...with the skulls of their victims.

The Wendigo tends to be more active during the winter, having a tendency for going on seasonal rampages. Those in the beast's presence may feel chills, and oftentimes the Wendigo's arrival is preceded by blizzards.


The Wendigo is a supernatural entity of enormous power, the embodiment of insatiable hunger, gluttony, unbridled evil, and the savage predator. Befitting its bestial nature, the Wendigo possesses supernatural strength, speed, endurance, and senses. The beast is able to rip a human apart with little effort, and the Wendigo moves so quickly that it cannot be seen by the human eye. Any wounds that are inflicted on the Wendigo’s body are healed very quickly, although wounds caused by silver tend to heal very slowly. It is invulnerable to most conventional weapons, excluding arms incorporating pure silver. The Wendigo thrives in even the harshest climates, immune to extremes of cold.

Perhaps due to its sheer size, bestial rage, and supernatural nature, the Wendigo possesses supernatural strength, which is described as “prodigious, superhuman, and irresistible.” The Ojibwe describe the beast’s strength as “omnipotent and fierce.” The creature can literally disembowel a grown man with one swipe of its clawed hand, a frequent occurrence according to those Native Americans who have encountered the Wendigo and lived to tell the tale. It devours horses, tall men, and grizzly bears in a single gulp. When the Wendigo walks through the forest, its fury and bloodlust are so powerful that, as it lashes out, tree trunks are ripped asunder, thick branches snap, and great gashes are torn through the earth, leaving behind a path of destruction not unlike a tornado.

The Wendigo’s senses of sight, smell, and hearing are greatly enhanced, comparable to those of many predatory animals. The Wendigo can see clearly in total darkness, and it may have some kind of infrared vision, enabling it to see its prey by detecting its bodily heat emanations. Once the Wendigo has its prey’s scent, it is able to follow it swiftly and precisely, no matter how far away the victim may be. Its hearing is so keen that it can hear the pounding of its fear-filled victim’s heart, which causes the beast’s own heart to pound with joy and anticipation.

Besides sheer strength and animalistic ferocity, the Wendigo is armed with formidable array of weaponry: its dreaded claws and fangs. The beast’s claws have been described as icicles, reflecting its utter dominion over its freezing territory. These talons are designed for ripping through flesh with the slightest touch, and one swipe from the Wendigo’s powerful claws can disembowel or decapitate a human. The beast’s mouth is filled with long, needle-sharp fangs, made for slicing through flesh and sinew, as well as for breaking bones. The Wendigo’s fangs can easily puncture a human skull.

Another signature trait of the Wendigo is its deafening voice, said to be louder than thunder. The beast's roars are ear-splitting in volume, especially when the creature is on the hunt. While stalking its prey, the Wendigo makes long growls and shrieks that frighten its prey, causing them to panic and flee wildly into the forest. The winds howl, the earth shakes, and animals go mad with fear. The monster literally tears up the earth with a single bellow.

The Wendigo is virtually indestructible and, regardless of the weather, next to nothing can stop or slow the beast down. It glides over the surfaces of lakes and rivers without sinking, and if the beast chooses to dive, it may stay underwater for hours on end without having to resurface for air. The Wendigo’s fury creates waves of tremendous size and strength, swamping and overturning boats that are miles away. On another note, the Wendigo is reputed to be a prodigious shapeshifter, able to assume the form of any animal it desires (quite possibly, this could also include human form).

Far from being a stupid beast, the Wendigo has a man’s intelligence and cunning, as well as the predatory instincts of an animal. It is mystically attuned to every single tree, bush, rock, hill, or cave within its territory (which can be considerably vast). The Wendigo uses this advantage to stalk its victims for hours on end, never being seen or heard unless the monster chooses to reveal itself by means of a growl or a shriek. There is no way to hide from the Wendigo, and it will not stop hunting until the victim’s broken, mutilated body lies at its clawed feet.

The Wendigo excels in stealth, and it is said that the Wendigo moves on the wind and breezes in utter silence. It can fill the air with an eerie, haunting siren by forcing air through its blood-flecked lips. The Wendigo is able to mimic human voices, which are most often cries for help. The beast’s roar is utterly terrifying, and the fear it inspires cuts to the bone. When the freezing winds rise, it is said that the Wendigo’s howls can be distinguished from the moan of the wind, letting people nearby know that a monster lurks in their midst. For its prey, these warnings occur far too late to make any appreciable difference.

Among the Wendigo’s host of supernatural abilities, the Wendigo Fever is perhaps the most feared. It is a terrible curse, overtaking the mind and body of the unfortunate victim. The first symptom of the curse is a strange scent, detectable only to the intended victim. After absorbing this disturbing odor, the victim experiences a long night of weeping and horrifying nightmares. Upon awakening, the victim experiences a burning pain in the legs and feet, which becomes so intense that the victim runs into the forest, shrieking like a maniac, and discarding clothing and shoes all the while. Most of the curse’s victims never return, although those who do return are irrevocably insane from their experiences of the curse and the Wendigo itself. It is thought that most of the curse’s victims are devoured by the Wendigo.

The Wendigo, although a dire threat to mankind, shares a close kinship with the forest’s wildlife, mainly predatory animals (such as the wolf, bear, raven, or eagle). The beast willingly shares its kills with these companions, and these animals have been known to travel with the Wendigo.

Protection from the Wendigo

Despite the beast’s immeasurable amount of power, there are ways to protect oneself from the Wendigo. If one is hunting this creature, a fire must be kept burning at all times. This will deter the Wendigo from attacking, but only for so long. If burned, the wounds will quickly heal and will only make the beast angry. Throwing feces may also distract the Wendigo, perhaps allowing time to escape from the beast, if only temporarily. It may also avert possession by the Wendigo's spirit.

Any means of mystical protection should be employed (amulets, protective spells, fetishes, and charms), as these things hold power over the Wendigo. Headphones or earplugs must be used to block out the beast’s maddening shrieks. However, one’s surest defense and greatest chance of survival during the Wendigo’s attack is a firearm loaded with silver bullets, and a silvered blade (such as a sword or a knife).

Slaying the Wendigo

One of the Wendigo’s most prominent traits in Native American lore is that the creature’s heart is made of pure ice, but according to some variations of the legend, the beast’s entire body is composed of ice. In fact, the only way to kill the beast is to shatter or otherwise destroy the creature’s heart. This is best done by piercing the heart with a blade of pure silver (however, some stories say that the beast may be slain by driving a copper rod through the heart). The heart may be excised and melted over a fire as well. Either way, the Wendigo’s head must be cut off (easier said than done), and the body must be dismembered. These parts must then be burnt to ashes, and the ashes scattered to the wind. Throwing feces may also distract the Wendigo, perhaps allowing time to escape from the beast, if only temporarily.

The Wendigo cannot be hurt or killed by conventional methods or weapons, including blades or firearms. However, silver is lethal to the Wendigo. Silver bullets or a pure silver blade (or silvered steel) can cause the Wendigo great pain and can even kill the beast.

In order to permanently destroy the Wendigo, one must first find the beast. The Great Lakes region and the forests of Canada are prime Wendigo territory. Beware, for the hunter may soon become the hunted. After finding and incapacitating the beast (no easy task, be assured), a silver stake must be driven through the Wendigo’s heart of ice, therefore shattering it. The shards of the Wendigo’s heart must be securely locked in a silver box and buried in consecrated ground (such as a churchyard or a cemetery).

The Wendigo’s body must then be dismembered with a silver-plated axe, and each piece of the body must be salted and burned to ashes (which must then be scattered to the four winds), or each piece must be hidden in some remote, inaccessible location (i.e. the bottom of a lake, a chasm, the sea floor, or a well). Failure to follow these procedures exactly will inevitably result in the Wendigo’s resurrection, followed by its bloody vengeance. It will hunt down its killer, relishing and anticipating the taste of the hunter’s blood in every single moment. Rest assured, the death that follows will be both slow and painful. The Wendigo will take great pleasure in every single bit of agony it inflicts on its killer before finishing the job and devouring the remains. Beware, as according to some legends, the Wendigo is indestructible.

Becoming a Wendigo

As far as becoming a Wendigo, it is surmised that most of these beasts which now stalk the dark forests were once human. It isn’t difficult to “turn Wendigo,” as the Native Americans say. There are, as far as any can tell, two types of Wendigo: there is the beast itself, and then there is a human that has been possessed by the Wendigo’s spirit. The latter variety is more common than the spirit-beast that is so feared by the Native Americans. Once possessed, the individual grows larger, becomes stronger, and the victim's visage becomes hideously ugly. In addition, the possessed individual develops powerful cannibalistic urges, even going so far as to prey and feed on it's own former friends and family. Furthermore, the individual becomes feral in appearance and stares maniacally at potential prey. Finally, the heart freezes completely. The individual is now no longer human, developing preternatural strength and speed, and gains the cunning of an animal. At this point, the gnawing cravings for human flesh become irrepressible, and the Wendigo must now hunt and feed, or perish from the eternal starvation that defines the Wendigo. Some victims, having become this beast themselves, retained enough of their human conscience to know that what they are doing is a terrible sin, and in moments of sanity, they have wished for nothing more than death to put an end to their eternal misery.

At this point, the Wendigo-possessed man must be forcefully subdued by ten strong men, bound tightly, and hung over a fire, as it is believed that the smoke will exorcise the evil spirit. If this doesn't work, the creature must be killed immediately. In this way, everyone is kept safe from the beast's depredations (the Native Americans, like many cultures around the world, find cannibalism to be a disgusting taboo).Some legends say that the Wendigo was once an Indian who was transformed by dark magic or the gnawing pains of starvation. In addition to this, a heinous act that is the moral equivalent of cannibalism can turn a man into a monster. This includes the unprovoked killing of a fellow tribesman, violating a religious taboo, incest, premeditated murder within the tribe, or even a fleeting cannibalistic thought. Even an innocent person who dreams of the Wendigo or encounters the beast's spirit in a vision will become an anthropophagous monster upon awakening. It may also occur during a vision quest, and if the youth doesn't reject the Wendigo's spirit forcefully enough, he will become a Wendigo himself.Starvation, if it persists long enough to cause one's moral views to blur, may cause a person to become a Wendigo. Eating another part of a person (i.e. fingernail clippings, pieces of skin, feces, or hair) will induce a cannibalistic hunger for human flesh in the individual, who will most likely transform soon afterwards. A man may also become a Wendigo due to enemy sorcery, and in this way, entire families can be affected and turned.

According to Native American culture, there are numerous ways among the Native American people in which a person might assume the form of the Wendigo, but the most common method is for a man to willingly engage in cannibalism. Hunters, campers, and hikers (not necessarily Native Americans) most often travel with a companion, someone with whom they are good friends and are able to trust. Although a rarity, when these people become hopelessly lost and eventually run out of supplies, they inevitably turn on each other. Morality has no part of nature’s law. In the end, only the strongest live and kills the other. The victor then feasts on the flesh of the corpse. This heinous, blasphemous act is all that is needed to summon a malevolent spirit of the forest.

The spirit forcibly possesses the cannibal’s body, forcing the human soul out. The moment the cannibal is touched by supernatural forces, he is overcome by extreme nausea and pain. He starts vomiting uncontrollably, for hours at a time. Eventually, the cannibal loses enormous quantities of blood, and inevitably dies. However, the body undergoes a terrifying transformation. The body grows in strength and height, growing a thick coat of white fur. The human’s strength and weight increases greatly, gaining supernatural powers in the process. The head takes on the features of a predatory beast, including the growth of prominent fangs and sharp teeth. The fingernails and toenails grow into sharpened talons, completing the transformation. The cannibal is then resurrected by the evil spirit, no longer a man, but a bloodlusting beast known as the Wendigo.

Although cannibalism is the most common and potent method, one can become the Wendigo through other means as well. Another common means is when a tribe is faced with a dire threat, a brave warrior prays to an evil spirit of the forest. The spirit agrees, possessing the warrior and transforming him into the Wendigo. This new form possesses more than enough power to deal with the threat, and after eliminating it, the warrior-turned-monster flees into the forest, never to be seen again.

The Wendigo’s spirit has been known to jump from body to body as its own body wears out, and possessing an individual causes them to become the beast. Dreaming of the Wendigo is another method, probably caused by possession during the night. Like other supernatural beings, the Wendigo is able to infect humans by biting them, causing the victim to become another Wendigo. A sorcerer’s curse will bring the transformation on as well.

However, there are depraved individuals who are willing to become monsters. They start by fasting for days at a time, and then journey into the forest. There, they offer their flesh to the Wendigo. Instead of devouring them, the Wendigo may decide to adopt the human as one of its own children. Over time, they become hairy, start to grow claws and fangs, develop a craving for raw human flesh, gain supernatural abilities, and become a Wendigo themselves (although these individuals are weaker than the monster that adopted them). Humans may also become Wendigos by making physical contact with the monster or by being attacked or bitten by the beast and managing to survive.


Exactly how and when the first Wendigo came to be is lost to history and legend. But ever since that time, the Wendigo has haunted the Great Lakes woodland and the cold forests of Canada for hundreds of years. Among all creatures in Native American legend, the Wendigo is the most feared and powerful. The Wendigo was once a man that broke a tribal taboo and ate human flesh. A malignant spirit possesses the cannibal, and the Wendigo is born.

Nobody knows how old the Wendigo truly is, nor from whence it came. The Indians say that the Wendigo has always walked among humans, a timeless spirit of eternal winter. However, folklorists believe that the beast’s origins lie in the ancient past. The Cree believe that the Wendigo came into being when the first humans arose, and was instructed by the Great Spirit to rule over the wilderness and the wild beasts of the forest. Many have come to associate the monster with the “olden days,” before the coming of the white man and even before the Indians themselves, perhaps dating back to prehistoric, primordial times. Like God and the spirits of the earth, the Wendigo itself is eternal.

The Native Americans once (and still do) feared the Wendigo so much that small groups of brave, armed men once actively hunted the beast in the past. One, a Cree Indian by the name of Jack Fiddler, had claimed to have killed fourteen Wendigoes during his lifetime. He and his son, Joseph, were tried for the murder of a Wendigo-possessed woman on October 7, 1907. Both men pleaded guilty for the crime, explaining that the unfortunate woman had been possessed by the Wendigo’s spirit. On the verge of completing the transformation, the Fiddlers killed her with silver bullets, which they said had to be done before she turned on the tribe. As one can imagine, the judge and the jury were probably more than a little skeptical of the idea of the alleged “possession” of the woman.

In the end, the Wendigo is notoriously difficult to destroy, nearly impossible to escape, and will sooner or later devour its chosen victim. Its howl echoes throughout the surrounding area for miles, turning the blood of those who hear the Wendigo’s cry into ice. Not a monster that one could encounter and hope to survive.


Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Monsters: Everything You Need To Know About Encountering Over 100 Terrifying Creatures In The Wild. New York: Three Rivers Press. Copyright ©1998 by W. Haden Blackman.

Columbo, John R. Windigo: An Anthology of Fact and Fantastic Fiction. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Modern Press. Copyright ©1982 John Robert Columbo.

Halpin, Marjorie M. Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence. Canada: ©1980 the University of British Columbia.

Irvine, Alex. The Supernatural™ Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright TM & ©2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Gilmore, David D. Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. Copyright ©2003 University of Pennsylvania Press.