Skudakumooch: The Legend Of The Flesh-Eating Ghost Witch of Native America

Updated: Jul 28

Skudakumooch or "ghost witches" are believed to be the evil spirits of Native American witches that refuse to pass over after death and return to feed on those still living.

Ghost Witch Stories
The Skudakumooch is a terrifying legend of Native America

One of the most terrifying Native American ghost legends is that of the Skudakumooch (also known as Skadegamutc) or "ghost witches." The Skudakumooch are said to be the evil ghosts of dead Native American witches and sorcerers that come back to haunt and terrorise the living.

The legend that originates from the Wabanaki tribe describes that the Skudakumooch are formed when an evil witch dies and refuses to pass over into the afterlife, the terrifying spirit of the deceased instead brings pain and misery to those still living, killing, eating, and cursing anyone that is unfortunate enough to cross its path. It is said that the only way to get rid of a Skudakumooch is with fire, by burning the human body of the deceased witch.

A Famous Native American Skudakumooch Tale:

In days long since passed, a well-known and evil sorcerer died of old age, in his life he had been a vindictive and mean man. During his time he was feared by many throughout the Dawn Lands. When he died, he had no friends or close family to deal with his body. The few relatives that he did have finally wrapped up his deceased corpse in blankets and put him in an old tree that was deep in a black forest.

Shortly after this, the forest became a place of fear, and the locals became terrified to enter it, hunters told stories about horrible groans coming from within the trees, and others spoke about witnessing strange lights flickering in and out of the forest, this would lead to the local men and women refusing to enter the area altogether.

Skudakumooch ghost witch of Native America
Various artworks depict the Skudakumooch or ghost witch

Several years later, a man and his wife were traveling through Abenaki lands, the couple did not know many people in this area, so, instead of seeking somewhere to stay for the night, they decided they would find somewhere suitable to set up shelter.

They saw the old forest and decided that would be a good place to provide them cover for the night and stepped into the dark grove.

When they entered the grove, the wife spoke of how a chill took hold of her, this led her to question her husband's choice of place to stay for the night. The husband simply laughed at his wife's fears and put them down to superstition.

Having selected a large tree, the husband set to building a small lean-to, lit a fire, and proceeded to cook their supper. After supper, the wife was studying their surroundings, extremely nervous with a strong feeling telling her that they shouldn't be there.

As it was winter, most of the trees were bare, dark, and twisted branches stretched out and entwined with each other. While looking up, the wife saw dark shapes hanging amongst the trees, she asked her husband what they were, half asleep he replied: "They’re only the bodies of the deceased, but you shouldn’t fear the dead. It’s the living out there in the real world that we have to be mindful of. Come; it is time to sleep." "We shouldn’t be here. I think we had better leave now," replied the wife.

The husband didn't reply, he just merely laughed at her before rolling over and going straight to sleep. The wife couldn't settle and sat staring into the fire wishing that they were anywhere but there. She felt as though the eyes of the dark forest were watching her, she lay down beside the fire but could not sleep, when the fire started burning out she tried to wake her husband but she got no response and was too terrified to go and try and gather more firewood, she wrapped herself up in her blankets and closed her eyes.

She soon began to hear a gnawing sound coming from the forest, she convinced herself it was just old tree branches rubbing against each other in the wind. The wife stayed awake the entire night listening to the same grating sound that seemed to go on for hours. To her joy, she noticed the sky was slowly starting to brighten as dawn approached and the noise suddenly stopped, she reached out in an attempt to wake her husband but he didn't respond so she decided to leave him be.

skudakumooch stories
It is said that the only way to kill a skudakumooch is by burning the spirits original body

When the golden ray of the sun caused the dark shadows to disappear from the ancient forest, she firmly shook her husband by his shoulder to wake him up.

He rolled onto his back with a face that was frozen in a look of terror, the left-hand side of his chest was ripped open and covered in a mass of blood. The wife stood up and screamed in horror before running as fast as she could out of the forest until she came to a lodge of the Abenaki. She tried her best to explain what had happened but due to how distressed she was her words were jumbled and made little sense.

The Abenaki first thought that she was crazy with her rambling but they tried their best to calm her down, eventually, she was able to tell them the horrifying story of what had happened, and many of the Abenaki, who had by this time gathered around did not believe what she was saying.

However, a few hunters recalled strange stories that they had heard about the dark forest, they also remembered the name of Skudakumooch (ghost witch). A number of the Abenaki men grabbed their weapons and went with the wife back to the haunted grove.

The group found the dead husband lying under a burial tree, they could all clearly see that his heart had been removed, the men looked up and saw the body of the dead witch high above. Several of the men climbed the burial tree and brought the dead witch's body down, they proceeded to carefully remove the blankets that covered the corpse, and to their horror, they saw that the mouth of the dead witch was covered in fresh blood.

The Abenaki set a large bonfire and burned the body of the witch, they also burned down the entire burial tree in a hope that this would be the end of the Skudakumooch.

It is said that from that day on animals returned to the grove and the menacing shadows that hung over the forest lifted.


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