The Monster That Represents Insatiable Greed: Meet the Windigo

Meet the Windigo.

Imagine an insatiable desire for something, a desire that only grows more profound and painful the more you take.

That's the perpetual experience of the Windigo, an ancient creature that haunted Native American Algonquin-speaking peoples of North America—and perhaps still haunts us today. The Windigo has become something of a cultural theme, appearing in different forms in everything from Margaret Atwood novels to blurry YouTube cryptid sighting videos to Borderlands 3.

What Is the Windigo?

By some definitions, the word "Windigo" means "the evil spirit that devours mankind." In others, it means "cannibal"—but regardless of how you define it, the Windigo is always terrifying.

"The Windigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tightly over its bones," describes Basil H. Johnson, an Ojibwe teacher from Ontario. "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 Windigo 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 Windigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption."

That's just one of the countless vivid and disturbing descriptions of the Windigo. Its appearance differs depending on where you get your stories. Sometimes Windigos are described similarly to the modern Slenderman—tall, thin, skeletal beings with bones poking through their skin, they're living depictions of rot and disease. Other stories depict the Windigo as a well-fed giant, while still others portray it as having antlers, pointed ears, and eyes like burning coals.

What We Actually Know About The Wendigo Myth

Windigo myths and legends are as diverse as the original Native American tribes were, and each is constantly shifting; but always, the Windigo is a creature that is perpetually hungry. Sometimes it feeds on human flesh; other times it's a representation of selfishness, greed, and famine. Most legends agree that Windigos were once humans, and some state that a person becomes a Windigo if or when they descend to cannibalism.

The stories differ regionally. In Nova Scotia, Wendigos were believed to have come from the far north, whereas some Algonquin people of the subarctic believed Windigos were consequences of starvation and freezing weather that caused ordinary people to turn to greed. Some people believed you could be turned into a Windigo through a dream, if a creature in a dream successfully tricked you into eating human flesh.

Interpretations and descriptions of Windigos have changed over centuries and with each generation. Unfortunately, many of these interpretations come through European colonizers' interpretations of Native American stories, which are fundamentally limited and damaged.

The Lessons of the Windigo

In some traditions, Windigo stories were taught to Native American children in an effort to instill values like kindness, empathy, and self-restraint. In others, Windigos were very real dangers. Some believed Windigo psychosis was a form of madness that overtook people.

Windigo stories have always held and hold many lessons. "Born of our fears and our failings, Windigo is the name for that within us which cares more for its own survival than for anything else," writes Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass. "The more it takes, the more it hungers, and its hunger is a bottomless pit. Its footprints, writes Kimmerer, are "everywhere you the industrial sludge of Onondaga Lake. And over a savagely clear-cut slope in the Oregon Coast Range."

Windigos existed in Native American culture long, long before the rise of capitalism, climate change, and colonization, some Indigenous thinkers associate Windigo culture was behind Europe's colonization of the world, and unchecked Windigo culture is behind modern oppressive systems and environmental destruction.

According to an article on Mohonk Nation News, "The riches of Great Turtle Island and its people triggered the psychosis in the strangers who came to our lands. They committed genocide of our people driven by the Windigo psychosis. They were unchained from the morality of human feeling."

At the heart of Windigo culture is a profound lack of empathy and disconnection from one's surroundings. "Traditionally, windigo uses starvation and isolation as a hunting tool," writes. "The Modern Windigo uses self-loathing, despair, and isolation as his hunting tools."

"Rather than hunting in winter in boreal forests, the Modern Windigo hunts with the tools of colonialism and capitalism. The new victim of the Modern Windigo is isolated as before, but this time the narratives of historical trauma are central to the isolation."

Fighting the Windigo

Though the Windigo seems like a difficult enemy, there are many stories about how the Windigo might successfully be defeated. "There were means by which our medicine people, healers, and most learned elders could rid a human being of the Windigo spirit," writes Goyd Bruyere. "These means involved the will of the entire community and was a most delicate, spiritual, ceremonial matter."

Many stories say Windigos must be killed and there is no saving the human trapped inside the Windigo. Others say it's possible to conserve the human life within the Windigo being, but this requires a great deal of care.

On the subject of defeating the Windigo culture at large, Robin Wall Kimmerer proposes a different solution. "The market system artificially creates scarcity by blocking the flow between the source and the consumer," she writes. "Grain may rot in the warehouse while hungry people starve because they cannot pay for it. The result is famine for some and diseases of excess for others….An economy that grants personhood to corporations but denies it to the more-than-human beings: This is a Windigo economy. What is the alternative?"

She proposes a vision of an "economy of a commons, wherein resources fundamental to our well-being, like water and land and forests, are commonly held rather than commodified...It is not just changes in policies that we need, but also changes to the heart," she continues. "Scarcity and plenty are as much qualities of the mind and spirit as they are of the economy. Gratitude plants the seed for abundance...Gratitude for all the earth that has given us lends us courage to turn and face the Windigo that stalks us, to refuse to participate in an economy that destroys the beloved earth to line the pockets of the greedy, to demand an economy that is aligned with life, not stacked against it."

Windigo culture—if we view it as selfishness and isolation and greed—is definitely destroying us. Greed is an old impulse, but humans have only survived by circumventing it through centuries; now it's time to try a different approach. In today's virus-racked, corporation-devoured, climate-change-melted world, defeating the Windigo might be our only hope.

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Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

Vacation VacationUniversity of Kentucky

Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!