There are probably several things you don’t want to see in your bedroom at night. If you have any idea what the wendigo is, that beast would be on top of the list.
You wouldn’t want to imagine it due to its horrifying representation.
However, this intriguing mythical creature has come to represent a unique type of art, with many choosing to have a wendigo tattoo for an edgy and unique tattoo design.
A simple wendigo tattoo can be an attention-grabber, depending on which part of your body it is placed.
Moreover, if you are a lover of dark fantasies, folklore, and mythical beings with spooky aura, then a wendigo tattoo is probably on your to-have tattoos list.
But what is a wendigo tattoo? What are its origins? And how did we come up with the designs we have now?
This article seeks to provide you with the relevant answers to decide on getting your preferred wendigo tattoo.
What is a wendigo tattoo?
The wendigo is increasingly gaining popularity in the tattoo world. Most people believe that its continuous appearance in pop culture influences its growing fame.
Today, a wendigo design usually showcases a fierce and large mythical creature with large antlers resting on a cow-shaped skull.
What’s more, tattoo artists usually depict it as ghoulishly skinny and tall, with its bony frame well outlined underneath its lean and hungry-looking skin to make it more intimidating.
Some tattoo artists also choose to add a bloody effect to this tattoo, indicating that the creature just fed on its recent victim, reiterating its insatiable desire to satisfy its hunger.
Despite its rather gruesome, wolf-like, spooky, and intimidating appearance, the wendigo tattoo is something that leaves many tattoo lovers intrigued.
But, before you decide to visit your tattoo artist, you might want to know the origin of this creature.
What is the origin story behind wendigo?
The wendigo is sometimes spelled windigo or weendigo in the original Algonquian dialect and is believed to symbolize winter and selfishness.
The idea of this creature comes from Native American folklore and has strong ties with the Algonquian people.
The Algonquians are considered as one of the most widespread and populous native American groups, originating from the South Atlantic Coast in the Great Lakes region.
They use the idea of a wendigo in their native culture in different ways, depending on which tribe is concerned.
But one thing that cuts across all the tribes is that this creature appears in the form of a spirit human, with the power to overtake and possess humans, causing their victims to perform evil acts.
A person becomes vulnerable to wendigo possession when they exhibit greed.
As mentioned earlier, the creature was linked mainly with the colder months, which was a time for supplies and rationing.
Since people tended to be greedy during this period, the idea was to discourage hoarding of supplies out of greed.
Typical wendigo tattoo designs now are not necessarily what the original idea looked like.
Although each tribe described what this creature looked like, the description has taken on considerable changes as stories passed by word of mouth through generations.
Therefore, the actual wendigo image may not be the same in mainstream pop culture.
The symbolism of the wendigo tattoo
Now that you know what a wendigo tattoo is and its origin, you need to know what the tattoo symbolizes. Knowing the meaning behind the tattoo makes it easy to explain and defend its popularity.
However, you can’t do that if you’re aware of what it stands for. That said, here are some symbolisms to note
- Greed: this tattoo still symbolizes greed and insatiable hunger, flowing from the original meaning.
- Community and generosity: Wendigo has also been linked to a spirit or desire for communal values. The idea here is that you can avoid becoming a greedy person by showing generosity to those around you and live for the community instead of yourself.
- Cannibalism: The tattoo design is also used to symbolize cannibalism in some cases. Again, this flows from the original idea behind the wendigo creature.
The creature craves human flesh and is constantly starving for it, and this is indicated by the creature’s lean and wiry frame.
According to these myths, when a person engages in cannibalism, the creature takes over their bodies and develops an insatiable desire or hunger in them to commit the act. Again, the idea was used as a way of discouraging the despicable act.
The tattoo also symbolizes a weird propensity to murder those who fall under its strong influence. In most beliefs, the creature grows in size each time it consumes a victim.
Wendigo Tatto Design Ideas
1. Hannibal Wendigo Tattoo
Thomas Harris’s famous cannibal psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter, combines quite well with the Wendigo myth and imagery.
This tattoo could represent violence under extreme and perfect control – a powerful statement and a warning for the world that the wearer of this body art is best left alone.
2. Traditional Wendigo Tattoo
A Traditional Wendigo tattoo could be a symbol to indicate that pain in life has driven one to extremes.
In the myths, the weakness of the Wendigo was its frozen heart – stabbing this heart would free the human soul inside, but it would also kill both the wendigo and the person that it once was.
3. Until Dawn Wendigo Tattoo
Fans of the famous interactive horror game, ‘Until Dawn’, can show their appreciation for this innovative horror with an Until Dawn Wendigo tattoo.
It is also a good tattoo for those who identify with Hannah, who became the Wendigo after eating her sister in a desperate attempt to survive and to take her revenge on the friends who left her and her sister.
4. Wendigo Sleeve Tattoo
A sleeve tattoo is a labor of love. It’s bold and there for all to see.
A Wendigo sleeve tattoo gives you a lot of opportunity and space to customize a truly breathtaking piece of art, which could be a warning against the greed that creates a wendigo or could represent that the wearer will always do what it takes to survive – no matter the cost to themselves.
5. Simple Wendigo Tattoo
Wendigo imagery doesn’t have to be complicated, and a simple depiction of this famous mythical creature is all it takes to impart a heavy message.
The starved man or woman with native American imagery incorporated is instantly recognized for what it is – a creature driven by insatiable hunger for the most taboo food of them all.
6. Wendigo Skull Tattoo
A depiction of a slain wendigo might be a way to display a body art message to the world that one has been freed from terrible compulsions that once guided their every step.
While stabbing the heart of the wendigo freed the human inside, it was said to kill them, but in symbolism death is often symbolic, such as with the Death tarot card.
Rather than a physical death, it can indicate a completely new life where the past is allowed to be forgotten and to stay where it belongs – behind us.
7. Wendigo Tattoo on the Chest
A Wendigo tattoo on the chest is a huge statement. While these tattoos can be hidden from work, a chest tattoo is a serious commitment and this placement means that the symbolism is close – literally – to the owner’s heart.
As a parable, the legend of the Wendigo serves as a powerful warning – there are some things that you must not do, or you will lose your humanity forever.
A Wendigo chest tattoo might be a warning that the owner is giving themselves and others as a reminder to remain vigilant in upholding personal beliefs, because the alternative is dangerous to their very souls.
This is a good choice for those who want a physical reminder to control themselves, because they know how dangerous it will be if they do not.
Think of it as a body-art cage to keep the inner-beast in line!
Fortunately, you’re at liberty to make your meaning out of the wendigo tattoo you choose, just like any other tattoo design.
The modern concept of this tattoo seems to have changed significantly from the original meaning – which was to discourage people from greed in tough times.
It’s fine to create your meaning for the tattoo design you choose, but it’s better to have a good idea of its original meaning.
So, what wendigo tattoo idea should you go for? Well, you can go for whichever version justifies your reason for having it.
Just make sure you’re not greedy about it – you know, with the whole possession thing and all. As long as you know what your design stands for, the choice is pretty much yours to leverage.
Wendigo Tattoos FAQ
Are wendigo tattoos offensive?
While it could technically be considered cultural appropriation, it is unlikely to offend anyone, although Algonquins are still around and if you ever meet one then it might well make them either amused or very wary of you.
The Algonquin tribes were the Cree, the Ojibwa, the Innu, and the Naskapi, and the descendants of the original tribes are still alive and well, living in Canada.
There is also a small tribe in Northern Michigan in the United States, so they are definitely still around.
That said, the Wendigo myth is probably about 4000 years old and known around the world, so the chances are that a Wendigo tattoo would be about as unoffensive to an Algonquin as a Dracula tattoo would be to a Romanian.The symbolism is more of a 'world-myth' now and so you can wear one if you like!