Monsters Among Us–A twist to our shapeshifters

June 25, 2008 at 9:11 am (General)

I thought today we’d take a look at a darker side to shapeshifting, one that has its roots in many legends, but today I’ll focus on those from the Navajo people and their tales of evil witches known as Skinwalkers or Yeenaaldlooshii–one who travels on all fours.  By definition a skinwalker is one who can don the skin of any animal and become that animal, only larger with supernatural powers and strengths that make them almost invincible.  By trade they are purveyors of evil, murders who curse rather than heal, who must kill a member of their family to achieve their powers.  They can take over a persons mind and body and force them to perform all manner of evil.  They feed off blood and fear as they destroy at whim.

Question is are they Legend or do they in fact really do exist?  Though many are reluctant to speak of skinwalkers, especially those seeped in the beliefs and traditions of the Navajo–the fear of incurring the wrath of one by daring to speak of them is great–there are stories out there.  In fact, too many tales of encounters and unexplained incidents by reputable people to ignore.  Even one suggestion that the legendary Sasquatch or Big Foot is a skinwalker, thus explaining why this huge creature had escaped detection in today’s modern world.  The phenomena of skinwalker-like incidents at an isolated ranch in Utah has sparked a study done by two respected men, scientist Colm Kelleher and journalist George Knapp,  who published a book on thier findings called HUNT FOR THE SKINWALKER.  Something you might want to read.

So my question this morning is:  Has anyone had or does anyone know of a person who may had a real life encounter with a skinwalker?    Or have you read a book with a skinwalker villian? 

Happy Reading

Jennifer st giles





  1. Julie Trevelyan said,

    I have lived in southern Utah since 1999 (excepting a brief foray into southern Colorado for a year and a half). Skinwalker lore abounds there, and I know many people who have had encounters with “something” out in the deserts and mountains that, lacking another definition, has been labeled skinwalker. Or, as we often say, the “s-dubs.”

    Nothing I’ve heard of these real-life encounters has ever been pleasant, sexy, or cool. It’s always been terrifying, yucky, and malevolent. My own most hair-raising encounter with a “something” out in the desert, which happened about 3 1/2 years ago, literally made the hair stand up on my skin–and I never even saw anything. I just knew I was being watched by something that *really* didn’t want me there. I still wonder if perhaps it was a mountain lion or other animal, but that seems very unlikely, considering that at the time I was traveling (hiking/camping) with a group of about 8 people, none of whom were quiet, and any wild creature would probably shun us. I later found out that the area in which I had this experience was known among my crowd as being an epicenter of sorts for uncomfortable interactions with that same malevolent something. I’ve never been back to that spot since, and I have no desire to return to it. Whatever’s there can have it, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’ve also sat around exchanging skinwalker tales with friends until we made ourselves jumpy. A few people I know have spent time with various native tribes and gleaned some information from them–but it is true that most people of native descent are not about to discuss skinwalkers out loud. If they believe, who am I to not? I am uncertain as to their exact nature, and there is a lot of information out there online if one cares to sift through the stories and separate actuality from fantasy

    Tony Hillerman has written about skinwalkers as evil villains, as have Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (Thunderhead), Aimee Thurlo and David Thurlo, and Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, among many more of course. Happy (scary) reading!

  2. Teresa D'Amario said,

    I’ve read alot of those books Julie’s mentioned. Most were 10-15 years ago, so I don’t remember all that much, but I remember they were usually presented as evil. Are they evil? Who knows. I guess in our “Reality”, what purpose would changing into an animal really serve? It does give you pause to think about it, because while we know being an animal gives our mythical characters extra abilities, and we always write most of them (Sometimes they are the bad guy), with similar morals as humans (with important exceptions of course).

    But would they truly have those morals? If shifting were a choice of something you could learn or not learn, would you have those same morals? Or is it you would learn these skills BECAUSE your morals were already compromised (compared to human standard).

  3. Lou Gagliardi said,

    Linda Conrad wrote a series of books for SRS called The Night Guardians, in which the main villain is a s-walker, and the heroes are all Navajo.

  4. Audrey M. said,

    Yes I have read about an evil skinwalker. It was one of the Lori Handeland NightCreadture books. I cannot recall which one, but it talks of a skinwalker who took on the skin of a wolf and was killing people on a reservation.

  5. Savanna Kougar said,

    Great topic, Jennifer. I’ve listened to both Colm Kelleher and journalist George Knapp discuss their book and the Skinwalker phenomena on Coast to Coastam. All I can say is there has to be something going on. There is malevolency and evil often in the encounters reported.
    I personally never want to meet one! What ideal villains, or someone pretending to be a Skinwalker for a nefarious purpose.
    I can’t say, though, that just because an animal is involved that would make a shifter less moral than by human standards. It could. Then again, if you subscribe to the shamanistic view of animal spirit guides, as I do, and have experienced, morality is a matter of spirituality, no matter your physical form.

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