Bus Beheader Posessed by a Windigo?

By | August 12, 2008

Bus Beheader Posessed by a Windigo

On July 20 — just 10 days before the killing — Li delivered copies of the Sun that contained an extensive interview with Carlson about his research into the Windigo, a terrifying creature in native mythology that has a ravenous appetite for human flesh. It could take possession of people and turn them into cannibalistic monsters.

The two-page feature talked about how, in the late 1800s and into the 20th century, Windigo “encounters” haunted communities across northern Alberta and resulted in dozens of gruesome deaths.

In one case, a Cree trapper named Swift Runner was hanged after admitting to killing and eating his wife, children, brother and mother in the woods northeast of Edmonton in the winter of 1878-79.

Prior to being charged with murder, he had suffered screaming fits and nightmares, which he attributed to being possessed by a Windigo.

In several other cases, people banded together and killed individuals they feared were possessed by a Windigo. Often, they would decapitate the corpse and bury the head separate from the body in order to keep it from rising from the dead.

Carlson documented several cases in northern Alberta communities where people believing they were “turning Windigo” would go into convulsions, make terrifying animal sounds and beg their captors to kill them before they started eating people.

In last month’s bus case, Li allegedly butchered McLean’s body, brandishing the victim’s severed head at the men who trapped him on the bus until police could arrive.

He was later accused of eating McLean’s flesh.

When he appeared in a Portage La Prairie courthouse on charges of second-degree murder, the only words Li reportedly uttered were pleas for someone to kill him.- cnews

Superstition can kill. Perhaps he read the story and just believed he was possessed.

Or possibly there is some local brain parasite which has caused this to happen from time to time in this area for many years. Li may have eaten something strange like a local beetle which carries the parasite a few days before the incident. Pure speculation on my part.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Windigo Psychosis is a culture-bound disorder which involves an intense craving for human flesh and the fear that one will turn into a cannibal. This once occurred frequently among Algonquian Indian cultures, though has declined with the Native American urbanization.

0 thoughts on “Bus Beheader Posessed by a Windigo?

  1. Ann

    When “they” believe something, we call it “superstition”, but, when we believe something, we call “________” Fill in the blank.

  2. Xeno Post author

    Superstition is a flawed belief based on misunderstanding the real facts. That’s my working hypothesis.

  3. Ann

    hmmmm facts? And, real ones too as oppose to? I suppose you wouldn’t or haven’t given too much credibility to Ludwig Fleck’s “Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact”? Or to works of Thomas Kuhn? I suppose you would dismiss Paul Feyerabend, also. There is an entire stream of thought within “science” or at least among those people who study exactly what science is and its facts that claim it is a social/cultural construction just like most of the stuff we or others believe – like windigo or “running amok”.

  4. Ann

    Excuse me, Xeno, for going off … But, the word “superstition” is not a good word when describing another culture’s belief system. In this case among the Ojibwa and Cree peoples. It’s condescending. It’s like saying we know Truth; they don’t. It’s a carry over from 19th Century Anglo-American view that formed the rational and intellectual basis of colonialism and the like.

  5. Xeno Post author

    Fleck is credible. He says science evolves. There are facts we don’t yet know. I have no problem with that. In fact, that is why I proposed the idea of some brain parasite.

    Kuhn seemed to suggest that you can’t view one paradigm from within another, and I disagree with that because, while I do believe in relativity, I don’t believe in relativism.

    In other words, there are not both Windingos and also no Windingos. One is right and the other is wrong. Perceptions differ, yes, true, but I believe in an objective measurable reality. In other words, someone is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong … or most often the two people arguing have different things in mind and are not really talking about the same thing.

    (PS. Kuhn denied the accusation of relativism.)

    If the earth is round and the facts show it, and if that hurts an entire culture’s belief system, I’d still tell them. Not out of cruelty or condescension, but simply because it is true. If they get offended because they are in denial, that’s not my problem. They will usually criticize or ignore the messenger.

    If someone has observable facts to show that there are evil spirits which possess people, bring it on.

    Most of the facts we believe come to us second hand and so we are all much more out of touch with objective reality that we believe. The matrix is real. We have only our mental maps of reality. We have only our brain activity which is a representation of the world outside of us.

    No human has ever really touched a flower.

  6. Ann

    Yes, Kuhn denied the accusation of relativism attributed to him. He was a historian and philosopher of science. He said that science goes paradigm shifts, but for these shifts to occur there has to be a sort of passing from the old to the new, a struggle from one to other. He went into some detail about all this and gave specific accounts. He is one of the most cited people in the studies of science. Kuhn wrote a preface to the republished work of Fleck.

    Ideally, the way people like to think science is practiced is as if we, outside of the influences of our culture and society, scientists observe, conduct experiments , record data, see how the data fits into what is known in terms of theories and then publish. (Or, something similar.) But, it is far more complicated; there’s a lot more going on. (I can verify from personal experience.)

    But, from the very start our culture influences our perception of the world. To indicate my point: Turnbull, an anthropologist, told a story about person who for the first time in his life left the rainforest of central Africa and upon seeing grazing animals in the distance asked, what are those little creatures, thinking they were some kind of insect. I personally saw a Native American from countryside of northern Argentina/Bolivia take off shoe and put it up alongside his view of the full moon one night to show me that man cannot have been to there, it’s too small. These are extreme examples perhaps, but we are no different. But, too recognize this of ourselves is as asking a fish to tell us about water, it can’t do it very well, because it doesn’t know what it’s like to outside water.

    It just may very well be there are “Windigos” for the Ojibwa and ghosts for Americans or “demons” for Christians.

  7. Tracey

    Although I am a spiritual enough person to believe in the possibility of actual Wendigo, I believe that the ‘coincidence’ of this case, where Mr. Li read an article about Wendigo just 10 days prior to his attack on the extremely unfortunate Mr. McLean, lends evidence to the existence of the much debated ‘Wendigo psychosis’.

    I believe it is highly likely that Mr. Li, possibly feeling disaffected, or even homicidal, read this article and began to believe that the Wendigo was the cause of his feelings. Once this idea took hold, it consumed him (no pun intended) to the point that he had no choice in his mind but to act on it, believing that the insatiable Wendigo inside him would emerge inevitably.

    I’m a great believer in Native American spirituality, and I believe that there may actually be Wendigo, and thought that this might actually be a case of Wendigo possession until I read about the newspaper article that Mr. Li most likely read. Now I believe that this case is most likely a case of Wendigo psychosis, with very tragic results. The power of suggestion is immense, and in this case, I believe a disturbed man was suggested into the most extreme behavior.

    I agree with some of the previous commenters who have pointed out the relativity of ‘superstition’. One man’s superstition is another man’s religion or faith. We tend to refer to the tenets of our own faith as ‘belief’ and that of other’s faith as ‘superstition’ or other belittling terms. The Wendigo may be as real a phenomenon to a Cree or Algonquin American as the Devil is to a Christian, and referring to one as myth or superstition is simply showing a bias for one religion over the other. If one can believe in such a being existing in one faith, why is it such a stretch to believe that it can exist in another?

  8. DelnaSerra

    The whole reason people think Wendigo(and this is the real spelling people)is a myth or legend is because those who actually experience a wendigo dont live to tell their experience. And its not just cree or Algonquin who know of Wendigo all the tribes do, its part of their ancient history. You can sit here and bash each other about fact from fiction but the reason no one understands the Wendigo is because very few and I mean VERY FEW have survived to tell about it. Many who have encountered and survived wont speak about it.

    The problem in this case is this man read a paper 10 days later killed someone. Who’s to say this man wasn’t a killer prior to the readings. Can you say insane plea? He used Wendigo psychosis as his motive to legally kill someone and since there isnt documented sightings with pictures to make the sightings fact… This man could have easily saw the paper, went home, used the internet as all of you have shown you have, and studied what information people actually do have of the legend of the Wendigo and Wikipedia made it even easier to help him win in court by defining this so called mental disease.

    Btw, I married a full-blooded Native American,privlaged with knowing the knowledge of their actual ways. So before you try to bash my information, I would suggest you study more with their actual culture.They know the stories passed down through the centuries better than any book or internet connection. Their lores are their religion. They believe in the Great White Buffalo,the Thunderbird, the White Horse etc.Where is your facts that these do not exist? And lets not forget while many of you who see the dreamcatchers as beautiful art. You may wanna know the difference between dreamcatchers and medicine wheels. Each one is made with purpose not just to decorate walls.

    Those who believe in God,got their facts from the bible, yet the bible is not the whole story in itself. Many books with facts, were left out. So unless a person was actually there, claiming that they know the truth of things, is a lie unto itself.

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