The Edmonton Sun
offers this description of a bizarre murder that occurred in 1887 near Canada's Slave Lake:
Marie Courtereille, 40, died after being struck four times with an axe -- twice by her husband Michel Courtereille and twice by her son Cecil. Testimony at their trial indicated that Marie had begged to be killed because she believed she was possessed by a Windigo, telling them, "I am bound to eat you." Over a period of several weeks, she became increasingly aggressive, "roaring like an animal" and attacking her husband.
Eventually, she was tied down and guarded around the clock until it was decided that there was no choice but to kill her. The community supported the killing.
A Windigo (also spelled Wendigo) is a creature from Algonquin mythology. The Algonquins believed that Windigos were malevolent spirits who could possess people, transforming them into "wild-eyed, violent, flesh-eating maniacs with superhuman strength." Horror fans will be familiar with Windigos, since they've featured in a number of horror books and movies.
The term "Windigo psychosis" describes a psychological condition in which people who believed they were possessed by a Windigo would go on cannibalistic rampages.
Many researchers regard Windigo psychosis as something of an Algonquin urban legend, but ethno-historian Nathan Carlson argues that it was a real phenomenon "which haunted communities right across northern Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and cost dozens of lives." Carlson is working on a book that will documents dozens of cases of Windigo psychosis. Sounds like fun reading.
More about Windigos in Wikipedia
. (Thanks to DJ_Canada
for the link)