The following is an account detailing the Native American myth of the Locust Moon, later deemed, more appropriately, the Cannibal Moon. Dating back to 1727, the Native American tribes told of a story in which the coldest winters would fall upon the lands and, with that cold, the harvest crops were unable to survive. With the death of the harvest came the death of the people, but not only in the the natural way one might assume.
I have three documents in my possession.
The actual Native American myth, which was passed down through oral retelling and recently committed to text in books of Native American mythology;
A Farmer’s Almanac of 1727, which details the difference of opinion the white settlers had about what transpired during the Cannibal Moon;
A story of a French trapper by the name of Phillipe Fournier, and how his thirst for revenge gave him purpose during the cold winters of the Cannibal Moon.
The myth and the almanac tell of the same story – the year of the Cannibal Moon would arrive without warning, bringing with it the coldest winters and the deepest snow, leaving a trail of barren harvest and desperate men. However, there are fundamental differences between the two documents that make it nearly impossible to come to a solid conclusion.
In the written myth, the Natives tell of the Moon as revenge on the white men, who came onto their lands with force and without deference for Mother Nature. In turn for their greedy, vile ways, Mother Earth withheld her bounty, leaving the men to wander into the forests without protection from the cold, and become so wrought with starvation and madness that they turn to feasting on each other’s flesh.
In the Farmer’s Almanac, the details are the same – the Cannibal Moon will bring the coldest winter early, so, in turn, all men must take heed and extra care when cultivating their crops before this long winter.
However, the almanac does not just warn of barren harvest and freezing temperatures. Like the Native myth, it tells of the killing, the devouring and feasting on men by fellow men and, in this case, blames the impending cannibalistic behavior on the Native Americans, or savages, as it calls them.
It seems natural that neither the settlers nor the Natives want to vilify their own people for such vile, monstrous doings. Yet, the adamancy that both documents exhibit, placing the blame on the other, makes it difficult to judge who was at fault, or if there was any fault at all. On one hand, the settlers could be seen as more suspect – they had no knowledge of the land, and their farming techniques were not honed to that of the Natives. It is possible that, in their greed and madness, as the myth proclaims, they lost their minds to this cold front. Yet, the anger and resentment of the Native Americans during this time is palpable – it is possible that their anger towards the white man took them to another place during these cold, dark winters – a place of revenge and survival.
The story of the French Trapper takes place in 1727 and tells of a man named Phillipe Fournier, a fur trapper and self-proclaimed Hunter of Demons.
Fournier’s family was killed and eaten during a year of the Cannibal Moon. In a vengeful mission, Phillipe took it upon himself to hunt down the perpetrators, and return to them the grief that he had been given. After carefully stalking and seeking out the hungry, wild-eyed men, he satisfied his vengeful rage by ripping off their limbs, skinning their scalps, and eating the flesh from their dying bodies. He adorned himself with the torn remnants of their flesh, scalps, ears, and fingers as symbols of victory, “prizes” of those who had killed his wife and daughter.
I hoped to find another clue from Fournier’s story, something that could bring me to a solid conclusion of which side engaged in the grotesque feasting of the Cannibal Moon. Yet, nowhere is there mention of which group of men Fournier targeted, no distinction in the color of the scalps he collected, or if the fingers were adorned with gold or turquoise.
Neither the Almanac nor the myth tell of men going missing during Fournier’s mission of revenge. It is possible that, in the aftermath, they mistake his killings for those of the savages or white men, respectively – after a long winter buried deep in snow, the rotted, scalp-less bodies must have closely resembled that of the cannibalistic massacres. It is possible they knew nothing about the fearless fur trapper, heart heavy with vengeance, traipsing through the deep snow to ensure that no other man had to lose everything he had to cannibals with an unending taste for flesh.