Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Let me tell you this - winter has definitely set into Wisconsin. We were hit with a massive amount of snow this week (way more than the snapshot pictured above), which makes the timing for today's book review absolutely perfect...today, I’ll be discussing the fantastic book Wendigo Lore: Monsters, Myths, and Madness, written by Kevin Lee Nelson and Chad Lewis.
Let me start out by saying that a full-scale investigation of the Wendigo phenomenon is long overdue. Like many attempts to explain away paranormal occurrences, the true effect the Wendigo has had, and continues to have, on culture has often been minimized or neglected altogether – replaced instead with an emphasis on the legendary aspects of the phenomena which, while of importance, are often treated as nothing more than campfire tales. Worse still, past attempts to poke the monster, so to speak, have often been tainted by outdated mores of imperialism and a lack of respect for First Nations’ cultures, restricting the Wendigo to a psychological aberration or culturally approved cruelty.
When treated as a genuine unexplained occurrence, the Wendigo is usually a sub-topic to a larger work. No problems here, just the statement that there was indeed a giant, gaping, Wendigo-shaped hole in paranormal research. No longer.
Wendigo Lore is a balanced, respectful look at the Wendigo phenomenon in all its many forms – from the folkloric accounts of the wendigo to current pop-culture representations, genuine cases of wendigo psychosis (here treated, as it should, as more an exception than the rule regarding the true scope of this phenomenon) to accounts, both historical and current, detailing encounters with anomalous entities, to an in-depth look on the traditions and beliefs regarding the wendigo held by First Nations’ peoples - no one facet of this sprawling lore is left out in the cold.
This book couldn’t have arrived at a better time either, in my humble opinion. The prominence of the wendigo in culture is by no means waning; it is alive and well, and has experienced a resurgence in recent years. With this added attention comes the subtle changing of the lore, threatening to obscure the historical accounts as well as the long-held traditions of First Nations’ cultures. Beyond the importance of Wendigo Lore to the paranormal field, it should also be viewed as a prominent anthropological tome, cataloguing many beliefs and accounts that could easily be lost.