I like creepy, scary stuff, especially this time of year. Of course, the best part about this season is that none of it is real. Around every dark corner is a man in a mask or a figment of a demented imagination. None of those dark fairy tales are a true threat. However, some things in the dark find a way to persist.

Michigan and the Great Lakes region are tied to a number of cryptids. In the lakes, there's Bessie and Manipogo. Out of the lakes, there's Mothman and Loup Garou. Each is terrifying in its own way and were they real, we'd all be in a lot of trouble. But what if one could hold the mantel as the most terrifying, the most rare, and the most practical?

One of the most rare cryptids in terms of alleged sightings is arguably the most dangerous of them all: The Wendigo. Think Game of Thrones White Walkers but significantly worse.

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For Algonquin-speaking native peoples, including the Ojibwe, the Wendigo is a traditional fixture in their beliefs, a symbol of famine, starvation and the brutality of winter. There's little doubt you'd recognize you're in the presence of a Wendigo, as the legend's disturbing appearance is the stuff of nightmares.

From an Ojibwe teacher, via Wikipedia:

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 its 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 bloody ... 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.

Wendigos, by nature, are Winter spirits that possess human beings that resort to cannabilism or fall victim to extreme greed. Wendigos are known for insatiable hunger, with some legends claiming the creature grows in size relative to its consumed victim preventing its hunger from being satisfied.

Wikipedia Commons: By SpongePP
Wikipedia Commons: By SpongePP

Terrifying enough, right? Well, it gets worse.

Binging YouTube over the weekend as one does, I watched a Film Theory video about a movie I'm excited to see, The Exorcist: Believer. In the video, famed creator MatPat asks the question of what would be the worst possessive spirit across all faiths and religions for an exorcist to encounter. His conclusion was the Wendigo as there doesn't appear to be a recorded method to cast out the malevolent spirit once it takes hold short of killing it. The video is embedded below.

So we've got terrifying and rare down, but why is this horrific creature actually the most practical? Oh, it's because some of these traits exist in a form of psychosis aptly named after the spirit. A real condition known as wendigo psychosis is seen as a culture-specific disorder, though it certainly has plenty of critics. However, much like the legends of the cold, white north, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases described the disorder's symptoms as including "depression, homicidal or suicidal thoughts, and a delusional, compulsive wish to eat human flesh..."

So this winter and Halloween season, be careful when wandering through the cold and dark in the northern portions of Michigan. Stumbling across a Wendigo is a death sentence, as is partaking in its blasphemous diet.

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