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Top 5 | The Lore Explored | The Wendigo

Top 5 | The Lore Explored | The Wendigo


There is, perhaps, no other entity in horror
literature that has been so deeply enshrined in the rich, flowing tapestry of a culture
and a people–than that of the Wendigo. You see, whether it’s depiction differs
from source to source, be it in early-17th century literature, or more recently in television,
graphic literature and visual media–the exact transformation of this deeply complex and
important creature can be traced through time like the rings of an ancient redwood. The thing is though–as this lore has more
recently established itself firmly in horror fiction as a whole–the legend of the Wendigo
is as ancient and ever changing still. But to understand it–we first have to peel
back the layers of history in an attempt to search for its roots. So, let’s see what we can dig up. Hello horror fans, what’s going on, and
once again welcome back to the scariest channel on YouTube–Top 5 Scary Videos. As per usual, I’ll be your horror host Jack
Finch–as today, we return to the Lore Explored–and take a look–at the Wendigo. Roll the clip. Ehh. Sorry there pal–but it’s not a Loon. For the curious amongst you, that clip was
from 2019’s Pet Sematary–based upon Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name. Which, for those of you that have read it–will
know that it’s one of King’s most despairing of tales–and also, that movie got quite a
bit of stick–but hey, I thought it was pretty good. Also, interestingly enough–King’s adaptation
decided to flesh out the age old tale of the ancient burial ground of legend–by pairing
it with the spirit of the Wendigo. Which, is telling to modern fiction’s interpretation
of the wendigo myth–but, as we’re about to find out–there is far more to it than
an antler bound revenant of the dead. To first understand a creature or a concept–perhaps
our first port of call should be the etymology behind it. The definition of the term Wendigo is a key
part of the Oral Traditions of the Indigenous People of North America. And, well–that’s where we find our first
problem–because as we will quickly find, there are many different ways to portray the
word Wendigo. In the Ojibwe language–it is the Wiindigoo. In the language of the Algonquin People–it
is Widjigo. In the Cree–it is the Wihtikow. And in the Proto-Algonquian of the Algic–it
is Wi-Nteko-Wa–which most likely translated to Owl in their original language. And this is where it is difficult to pinpoint
the exact origin of the concept–or whether there even *was* an origin point–and the
Wendigo instead emerged into the psyche of the Indigenous people of North America through
a shared sense of moral obligation–or even stranger still–the same shared experience. That though, is pure speculation–but interestingly
enough, there is a similar word–The Wechuge–that depicts a similar being that appears in the
legends of the Athabaskan People of the Northwest Pacific Coast. You see, much like the Wendigo, the Wechuge
is a man-eating creature that devours flesh as a curse and eternal punishment, but interestingly–the
Wechuge of legend is instead inexplicably tied to the creation mythos of a specific
group of Athabaskan people. The Dane-zaa–which roughly translates to
Those Who Live Among The Beaver–who believe that in their mythology, The Wechuge was a
person who had become possessed or overwhelmed by the power of one of the ancient giant spirit
animals that formed the basis of their oral tradition. In most instances, the Wechuge is depicted
as a creature formed of ice–and can only be killed by being thrown into a campfire
and kept their overnight until it has melted. In some instances, however, this creature
is even depicted as having wings–a rare occurrence in the traditions of Native American legend–and
a symbol of great importance. Whichever depiction of the Wendigo Myth we
take–one thing is for certain. In the traditional belief systems of the Ojibwe,
the Saulteaux, the Cree–the Naskapi, the Innu–and many other Algonquin-speaking peoples
of North America–The Wendigo is far more than just a cautionary tale told to children
over a campfire. It is an integral part of their belief system–and
in most cases–it served as a taboo reinforcement–both a reminder and a warning of the hardships
faced through winter. No matter which depiction of the myth we pull
apart, in each of them–the Wendigo is seen as the embodiment of gluttony and greed–particularly
in relation to the unbreakable taboo of cannibalism. It is a cultural cornerstone–a warning sign
of excess in consumption–and the creature that would later form these warning signs
would become the embodiment of that. Now, that isn’t to say that the depiction
of the Wendigo was always the same. In some cases, particularly in regard to Ojibwe
and Cree Lore–the Wendigo was often described as a giant creature–many, many times larger
than a human–a differing characteristic that was absent from other Wendigo Myths of Algonquian
Culture. In these legends–whenever a wendigo would
consume another person–it would grow larger, in proportion to the meal it had just eaten–preventing
it from ever sating it’s own hunger. It always wanted more–never sated or content
with it’s quarry. That’s an important lesson–for all of us
to learn, I think. But still–this lead to the garish and oftentimes
terrifying description of this creature–that would later become the driving force behind
it’s evolution from the 20th century onwards, particularly when we analyse it’s depiction
in modern horror fiction. As Basil H. Johnston, an Ojibwe Teacher and
Scholar from Ontario described in his 1995 book The Manitous–The Spirit World of the
Ojibway: The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation–its
desiccated skin pulled tightly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin,
its complexion the ash-gray of death, and it’s eyes pushed back deep into their sockets–The
Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and blood–Unclean
and suffering from suppuration of the flesh. The Wendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor
of decay and decomposition. Of death–and corruption. And this is where the modern depiction of
the Wendigo gained traction as an entity of horror fiction. The Wendigo *is* terrifying. A humanoid, supernatural creature–that exemplified
an eternal hunger–and as European Settlers made their way through North American, and
the colonial period of the continent began to tighten its grip around this ancient culture–the
modern interpretation of the Wendigo was born. And not only that–but as science and psychology
came face to face with ancient oral traditions–the exact concept of the Wendigo’s cultural
purpose became something else entirely. Wendigo Psychosis–a historical phenomena
that is perhaps the reason with the Wendigo Myth was so successful in later North American
literature. In 1661–as a chronicler and missionary for
the Jesuit Relations made their way through North America, they came across the first
documented account of Wendigo Psychosis–as a result of a reported case of desperation
and cannibalism. As he explained, the men that he came across
were– afflicted with neither lunacy, hypochondria,
nor frenzy–but have a combination of all these species of disease, which affects their
imaginations and cause them a more than canine hunger. This makes them so ravenous for human flesh
that they pounce upon women, children–and even upon men–like veritable werewolves,
and devour them voraciously–without being able to appease or glut their appetite–ever
seeking fresh prey, and the more greedily the more they eat. Whatever the interpretation of this report–it
was an important moment in the later cultural significance of the Wendigo–particularly
with its relation as a genuine concern for the rough and often inhospitable periods in
Colonial North American history. Now, The Wendigo, was far more than just a
creature in a far off land–but instead, a very real hardship faced in Winter–as the
inexperienced fur trappers and settlers pushed further into the New World–hearing tales
from the Indigenous People of the land who had grew to fear it over generations. However, one of the more famous cases of Wendigo
Psychosis came several hundred years later, with the tale of a Plains Cree Trapper named
Swift Runner. During the harsh winter of 1878–Swift Runner
and his family were stranded and starving in the wilderness of Saskatchewan. Soon–despite being twenty-five miles away
from an emergency food cache of the Hudson’s Bay Company–Swift Runner’s eldest son perished–and
shortly afterward–Swift Runner allegedly butchered and ate his wife and five remaining
children. The case was both strange and shocking–and
given that the Plains Cree trapper resorted to cannibalism in such close proximity to
the emergency cache–it was later revealed that Swift Runner’s actions were not the
case of pure cannibalism as a dark and last resort to starvation–but rather of a man
afflicted by Wendigo Psychosis. And here was the inspiration for the first–and
very important fictional interpretation of the Wendigo Myth–with a short story written
by Algernon Blackwood. A tale, written in the year 1910–simply titled,
The Wendigo–the first mainstream horror depiction of its kind. In the story, Blackwood tells the tale of
two Scotsmen on a moose-hunting trip in the wilderness of Rat Portage, in Northwest Ontario. They are joined on their trip by two guides–a
man named Hank Davis–and the French Canuck, Joseph Defago–alongside their Native Cook,
Punk. Although this tale is a very tame brush with
the Wendigo Myth of legend compared to most modern incarnations–it instead employed the
first depiction of the Wendigo not just as a grotesque entity–but as a doppelganger,
which could take on the guise of a human being. Perhaps the most important convention of this
story though–is with the wisdom of the Native Character–Punk, who recognises all of the
signs of the Wendigo, and immediately gets the hell out of camp. Whatever it’s importance to the mainstream
horror depiction of the Wendigo–Algernon Blackwood’s story planted the seed of an
idea in many other horror writers of the time. It would influence authors such as Howard
Phillips Lovecraft and Grace Isabel Colbron–and most importantly, August Derleth–who would
use the concept of the Wendigo in his story, The Thing That Walked on the Wind–and later,
with his Cthulhu Mythos entity–Ithaqua–which some of you may be familiar with. Hint: it’s a giant wendigo-looking ice revenant
that roams the Arctic Waste. Sound familiar? Yeah. It would also go on to inspire an early short
story of Thomas Pynchon’s, titled Mortality and Mercy in Vienna, first published in 1959. Here, it focused on a character developing
Wendigo Psychosis and his development into a psychotic serial killer. That, in itself–would later inspire several
movies–such as 1999’s Ravenous–as well as several T.V series–such as Charmed, and
more recently, Hannibal. Perhaps the most iconic of the modern Wendigo
entities though–is with Stephen King’s version of the entity. As we briefly explained in our opening clip,
it would inspire a key character in King’s 1983 novel Pet Sematary–where the personification
of evil in an Ancient Burial ground of the Mi’kmaq people–was an ugly, grinning creature
with yellow-grey eyes–its ears replaced by rams horns–and it’s tongue pointed, decaying,
and yellow. Although not as profound as it is now–at
the time–King’s interpretation of the Wendigo, which in turn was an interpretation of the
19th century colonial legends coming from North America–set the template for the Wendigo’s
later portrayal in popular horror culture–where, for the most part, it completely replaced
the Native American lore that had long formed the importance of the Wendigo. In 2012 though, Chippewa author Louise Erdrich
had a thing or two to say about that, with her novel The Round House–setting the precedent
for a new re-interpretation of the Wendigo Myth. And here is where our path splits–because
the Wendigo, in many ways, explains the transformation of one land to the other. For thousands of years–the Wendigo served
as a cultural barometer for the Algonquian People–an ever adapting tale that formed
the importance of cooperation–of restraint–of sustainability–and the dangers that came
with forsaking those virtues. It painted the monster that we all ran the
risk of becoming if we indulged too much in the act of greed. You see, as colonial North America expanded
into these ancient territories, and these settlers shifted away from the many European
Folktales that had formed the basis of their society–new ones were forged–fragments of
a culture that had long existed before them as they clambered to produce an identity. Whilst this identity has been interpreted
in many ways–perhaps in most cases to their detriment–the essence behind the myth of
the Wendigo has always remained the same. Be it man–or monster–we all choose which
side we fall on. Well, there we have it horror fans–our dive
into the rich mythos of the Wendigo Myth–and believe me, there is far, far more to this
incredibly important cultural concept than just what I’ve attempted to explain–so,
if it’s piqued your interest in any way–make sure to enjoy the legend for yourself. And there we have it–our fourth episode of
the Lore Explored! And you know what, I’m absolutely loving
this series so far–but why don’t you let us know what you’re thinking down in the
comment section below, and let us know if you have any suggestions for future videos. On that note, unfortunately, that’s all
we’ve got time for in todays video–cheers for sticking around all the way until the
end. If you were a fan of this video, or just Top
5 Scary Videos in general–then please, be a dear and hit that thumbs up button, as well
as that subscribe bell, and I’ll be seeing you in the next one. As per usual, I’ve been your horror host
Jack Finch–you’ve been watching Top 5 Scary Videos–and until next time, you take it easy.

100 thoughts on “Top 5 | The Lore Explored | The Wendigo”

  1. HeyJack! So glad I found your channel, You guys are jewel in a sea of otherwise mediocre content. Up the horror!

  2. Wasup Jack hope ya had a good day bro 👍 kool video thanx i've heard alot about this Wendigo thing id like ta find out if it exists fr im all for this kinda stuff and spooky shyt as well lol read my comments out sometimes ill be sharin alot mo i been thru some shyt in my life. i've never read the book Pet Cemetary ima have ta look fa that (the movie's pretty good) lol Hope u and the top 5 fam n fans have a great day bro. Mmfwcl 🃏

  3. I like this series a lot, maybe consider doing Baba Yaga or other Slavic mythological creatures they are all extremely interesting!

  4. Best Wendigo story you didn't meantion is FEAR ITSELF: SKIN & BONE starring the Legendary Doug Jones. He is more the man turned monster here rather than the demon beast, but it's very scary all the same. Probably the scariest thing ever made just for TV (Stephen King's It as a honorable mention) but Doug is terrifying in it, minimal make up/ effects. All Doug, check it out on YouTube
    https://youtu.be/p2R_ilTGusE

  5. Those who became, Wendigo, ate human fleash. They became possessed by an evil spirit that couldn't be cast out. At least by my 2 ancestor Nations. From the study I have done. They do seem to exist outside myths.
    Great job of explaining how the story was taken from, The People, and reinvented by While writers. Just read the old stories some will curdle Y out blood.

    um

  6. I would love to see one of these on something super ancient like Dybbuk or the Golem. Something like Ifrit would be super cool too, the older the better though!

  7. Ashamed that you didn't mentioned the Wendigo from Until Dawn which I'll be honest was an introduction to the mythology for me.

  8. I absolutely adore your channel. Just two things, if the music could be lowered a little and if you could speak a little slower as English is not my mother tongue. Again thank you for all your enlightening videos. I learn something new with every one.

  9. I am impressed. Very accurate video. It's great to see how much care and effort you put in to researching my culture and the history behind it. However, saulteaux is pronounced "soh-toh" and Swift Runner was from a city called Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta, and not actually from Saskatchewan the province. Overall you guys did well though. I really liked this video!

  10. Mrcreepypasta read a Wendigo story called Consumption and it's pretty good. The scream of the Wendigo is terrifying.

  11. Jack and Lucy ….. if you had to pick a Lovecraftian monster to battle against each others monster …. which would you choose?? please don't pick the same one though 🙂

  12. I have always thought monsters and spirits created by Indigenous people have been the warning stories of how their people shoukd NOT behave. Thank you for an eclectic description of this myth! I am Inupiaq from Alaska and appreciate any who try to firmly describe tribal roots of indigenous legends!

  13. The Wendigo has just too many names and descriptions and constantly changing. Which makes it difficult to absorb the myth.

  14. I honestly enjoyed Blackwood’s version since the Wendigo in that tale wasn’t looking for flesh as it only ate moss and the characters don’t ever find out why it tormented them.

  15. WOW!! OUTSTANDING!! You covered so much of the lore packed in such a small video, you’ve done your homework!. Do you have a fascination with the Windego lore? If so keep looking further down to south to Central America

  16. I don't know if you've ever mentioned it before and maybe I missed one of your episodes.

    Nomads, a Pierce Brosnan movie from the 80s. In that movie, I think there might be two types of the Wendigo mentioned, but I've watched a lot of horror movies.

    As you were discussing several types of Wendigo, did you mention THE DECEIVERS ? Humorously enough another Pierce Brosnan movie. I had to go into IMDb to look up Pierce Brosnan's full filmography because I was remembering a beautiful bit of poetry – or maybe prayer in the Thuggee culture of Kali.

    I had finished watching your video and didn't want to lose this specific video to respond to on uTube or whichever the video grouping is called again.

    I think listening to your discussion put me in mind of three movies and one episode of Masters of Horror straight off since you were talking of the variations of the Wendigo, and I think one movie that you mentioned has the Wendigo canibaliism and the puck? (The "Indian" or Native American – I don't know if the specific tribe was ever mentioned in regards to this character in Ravenous, or if you'd only spoke directly of the canibalism in the movie Ravenous .)

    The poetry of prayer I liked since my teens, when this movie first came out, or since the 80s when I first saw it, has stayed in my memory better since I don't have a huge selection in my Memory Warehouse – mentioned in discussion amongst the friends in Dreamcatcher (2006) , but the poem I like – or prose, as an American, my poetry versus prose education I would say was sorely lacking, you know, one of those smallish town's education where football got more of the school's funds rather than various types of literature.

    Anyways, the poem/prose:

    Because thou lovest the burning ground

    I have made a burning ground of my heart,

    That thou the Keeper of The Burning Ground, may dance thy sacred dance.

    Hell, the discussion of Wendigo, and the probable variations of the creature being either monster or creature, a supernatural entity that may originally start as a non-corporeal entity taking possession of a human, OR that "possession" being an overt sign of the mental illness

  17. It's a bit weird that you're talking about wendigo and native American mitology, but there is no mentioning of Graham Masterton.

  18. That Blackwood story is fantastic . I highly recommend it. I read it as teenager almost 30 years back and it has stuck with me.

  19. I remember hearing about the wendigo when I was a boy scout, 30 years ago. My troop leader used the wendigo to scare us at the camp fire, not a slasher or bigfoot. No one slept at his campouts He was a cruel bastard but made an amazing barbeque!

  20. I Absolutely LOVE u Jack! I can listen to u talk all day! U are so stuffed pack full of information! Thanks for sharing with us! Love u dude! ❤️💋😘❤️💋

  21. I grew up in Navajo territory in New Mexico and couldn't honestly remember any cannibal type boogymen stories. However, there's lots of controversial anthropological articles about cannibalism among the Anasazi, and I highly recommend reading about it. It's horrible and fascinating.

  22. Let's also remember hunger and starvation where used in the genocide against indigenous people, from the slaughter of bison to remove a vital food source to the starvation of the children forced into residential schools. The colonialist hunger for unsustainable conquest feed but never satisfied by deliberately starving the original inhabitants is a terrible historical truth.

  23. This is actually a really deep dive that's respectful and accurate to the original folklore of the Wendigo, I'm really impressed! Cheers, mate

  24. I absolutely love this series, and wendigo mythology in particular. If you haven't played Until Dawn, do it now. Lol Trust me, it's relevant to this.

  25. Used to watch Charmed pretty much religiously (seasons 1 to around 4) and the Wendigo episode was always one of my favourites. Was pretty early on

    Thanks for giving it a mention!

  26. The windigo is no joke I had some friends go camping and tel me this crazy story, i don’t know but I’m a believer. Love this channel with all my heart, all hail Lucy!!

  27. Is it just me or does Jack get more appetizing, (pardon the pun) the more of the Lore Videos he does? All this knowledge and history he's teaching me, is making him look very appealing! Not that he isn't usually appealing, but it's like he drank the whole bottle instead of just one swallow 😉 I'm liking this series on you Jack

  28. The wendigo story change the lock during the centuries yeah well it's still the favorite Native American monster

  29. Keep bringing them Jack, love stories from the past. I can think of a couple, though I reckon u already covered werewolves. So goblins, dragons, the kraken, giants, dryads n other tree folk, the list is endless. Do what u n Lucy do n keep it coming. 😊😊😎😎🤘🤘👍👍✌

  30. Hey yo Cap'n Jack how 'bout the lore behind Davey Jones? Or the North American Dogmen? There's really an amazing amount of future lore to explore. That's why l love this channel that and the hosts.

  31. Sry but Windigo's aren't scary at all. No matter how much they try change them into more european style monsters of lore.

  32. I’ve always been fascinated by the tales of the Wendigo and the Skinwalker. I’m happy to say that I’m finally making a Wendigo costume this year for Halloween! I’m loving the lore explored series! Thank you!

  33. Hollywood constantly tries to make most Native legends (Wendigo,Chenu,Skinwalker etc)into the European Werewolf.

  34. Groovy, my grandfather was Cherokee Indian would tell us stories about the wendigo. That his grandfather told him, but anyway the stories scared the crap out of me. 😎

  35. Use fire, it can kill anything, there is no monster or beast that can resist the eternal flame!
    Why do people say “KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!”

  36. KEEP THIS SERIES COMING, LOREMASTER JACK!!!!!! But seriously you guys are doing such a good job, thanks for making my nights a little less boring 🤙🤙🤙

  37. Hi Jack.I just want to say thank u to u and Lucy for these lore explored videos.U guys put a lot of work into it and I really appreciate it.Thank u

  38. It's a very cool creature.

    It deserves its place in the world.

    There is a room for all creatures in the world.

    Respect nature and it will respect YOU.

  39. If you want to hear a good-ish creepypasta check out mrcreeps video titled “I am being watched by a wendigo” he is a bit monotone but it’s still a pretty good story a better story however is “we survived a wendigo attack” or something like that also narrated by mrcreeps

  40. Loved this video so much! The Wendigo was one of the first creatures of North American legends that I learned of growing up. Also, some of the pictures used in the videos reminded me of Elias from The Ancient Magus’ Bride… Wonder if it was just from the animal skulls…

  41. Ready to dive deep into the mysteries of the cosmos? – Top 5 Scariest Cosmic Horror Monsters
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-F6c8V40XE

  42. Jack, I could hug you. Just gave me a fresh idea for writing on the wendigo myth… Great work, man!
    BTW, you may want to check out The Last Winter – not great, but some nice, crunchy wendigo horror in it.

  43. I reckon that depending on what culture come from the wendigo sort of scene in a multitude of different ways just like Bigfoot. But it's fascinating to kind of know a little bit more about that because yes it is Native American lure but the fact that it's also considered to be a psychosis now that I did not know but in a way kind of makes sense I've heard these stories didn't really know the back story on them. Kind of reminds me of the whole backdrop to the werewolf and then vampire because every single one of those have scientifical background for The Munsters that were created and they all had a Savage need to indulge in some way shape or form. In Monster form! But at the same time they're all things that anyone could be suffering from! Got to love science!

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