In our first few days, we at the Association of the Abnormal have already mentioned the Wendigo quite a few times. While I am following a few other leads here in Paris, I would really love to get some closure on what exactly the creature was doing outside of North America.
For a recap of my run-in with the Wendigo, please see: An American Wendigo in Paris.
Of course, since they have somehow made it across the pond, I feel it’s my duty to provide a brief overview of what they are and how they can be killed.
What is a Wendigo?
To put it simply, a Wendigo is a beast that has plagued Algonquin land for thousands of years. The origins of the first Wendigo are debated, but it’s generally accepted that the first creature was created when a demonic spirit posessed a human who had been forced to cannibalize under some dire previous circumstance. As the demon fed off of his or her fear and guilt, it produced a creature that could never be satiated by anything but human flesh.
Now it is understood that any human can become a Wendigo if they resort to cannibalism–on a permanent basis. Unlike the werewolf or vampire, the conversion is permanent, and there is nothing that remains of the person that a Wendigo once was.
Although humans are the only food-source for a Wendigo, they are also the Wendigo’s only chance to multiply. Since reproduction is obviously off the table, the Wendigo’s main method of turning a human is to torment their dreams, instilling them with an insatiable urge to cannibalize, until finally in a dream-state, the victim does just that.
Additionally, not all victims of the Wendigo are turned into Wendigos. In fact, my discovery that the Wendigo in France had clearly attempted to turn multiple people (as evidenced by the brawl) is extremely rare and disturbing, especially considering Wendigos usually only turn a new creature every ten to fifty years.
Origin: Northeastern United States and Canada (Algonquin Territory)
Identifying Traits: Wendigos are strong, fast, and intelligent; able to lure unsuspecting victims into the forest by mimicking human voices. Their gaunt, emaciated appearance can be misleading, but they are adept hunters and can be extremely difficult to escape–let alone kill.
Although it is not necessarily the case (as evidenced by the Wendigo at the Croix Rouge ghost station), many wear a deer or elk skull with a full set of antlers. For some, it seems the mask is fused with the face. (Possible link to Viking Berserkers?) Because of this, it is often debated that a Wendigo’s age can be determined by the presence of a skull.
Wendigos are most likely to hunt during the winter months when food is scarce.
Weaknesses: Wendigos have two weaknesses: insatiable hunger, and fire. Because of their insatiable hunger, it can be difficult for them to avoid walking into a trap, thus leading to their death (if the trap has been properly set). Because they fear fire, it can also be possible to disorient them with bright lights for a time. Ultimately, the only way to kill a Wendigo is by burning its heart. Regardless of how you accomplish it (I find that flaming bolts from a crossbow work well), the Wendigo must receive a direct shot of flame to the heart.
Strengths: Owing to their demon heritage, Wendigos are impossible to harm without flame. They are excellent hunters and are capable of tricking and trapping their human victims.
Notes: Though it was difficult to capture (over the sound of a passing train), I was able to catch a recording of the Wendigo in Paris. Feel free to listen and share for the convenience of other hunters.