The Flight of the Owl: the Wabeno, the Windigo, the Wendigokan, the Morning Star, and Mexican Echoes in Anishinabe Culture

This article starts from a cue provided by some Algonquian etymologies, starting from the Proto Algonquian term *wi-nteko-wa, through a series of cognates in the various Algonquian languages. These words develop four meanings: that of windigo, a cannibal spirit or a human who becomes a cannibal, that of owl, that of specter, ghost, and that of madman, jester. Connected to these meanings, there are a series of gods, mythical characters, practitioners of the sacred and ceremonies, whose origins are prehistoric and are linked to the diffusion of the cultural-ritual-economic-bellic complex of corn farming from Mesoamerica to the Great Lakes. The importance of the Venus cycles, the relationship between the Morning Star, warfare, and winter, and the Wabenowin, the Dawn Society of the Anishinabe tribes are prominent within this complex. Finally, I will explore the meaning of the Wabeno paintings of the drum collected by Beltrami in 1823 and housed in the E. Caffi Museum in Bergamo, Italy, as well as its probable owner.