It is said the Wendigo could either posses humans or be a human that has been transformed into a creature. One of its traits is that of cannibalism. The Algonquian people believed that the eating of human flesh would put the person at risk of becoming a Wendigo.
There is a modern medical term known as Wendigo Psychosis, which has symptoms of craving of human flesh.
Descriptions of the Wendigo vary in the different cultures, but they all share a similar characteristic. They are malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings with great spiritual power. They are also associated with the cold, famine, and starvation.
Basil Johnston, a scholar from Ontario, Canada, described the Wendigo like a skeleton with tightly-wrapped decaying skin, covering their bones. Their eyes were sunk back in their sockets and gave off an odor of decomposing flesh.
Wendigos are also associated with gluttony and greed. Never being satisfied with consuming one person’s flesh they continually search out for new victims.
A variation of this, is a human that has become filled with greed can turn into a Wendigo. They were also claimed to be giants and would grow larger each time it consumed another human.
A person could also become possessed by a spirit of a Wendigo in a dream. The person would become violent and be obsessed with consuming human flesh.
The Algonquian people also believed that during the times of famine, the eating of human flesh was forbidden even if it was to survive. Instead one should commit suicide. During famine, some cultures performed ceremonial dances to reinforce the seriousness of turning into a Wendigo.
Image Caption: Saturn Eats His Child painting. Credit: Francisco Goya/Wikipedia (public domain)