I am really enjoying our latest page about monsters. I am discovering so many strange and cool monsters of folklore to write about. Yay! To me, there is nothing better than having fun and learning something new while I write. So, what did I learn about today? How about a Werewolf referred to as the Cajun Rougarou.
The Rougarou is also known by some other names such as the Loup-garou, Roux-Ga-Roux, and the Rugaroo. They are all the same creature.
It is the creature of Cajun folklore and the tales of the Rougarou have been used for centuries to keep children safe and obedient.
The Cajuns are a group of people with an enduring cultural tradition whose French Catholic ancestors established permanent communities in Louisiana and Maine after being expelled from Acadia (Quebec) in the late 18th century. (2017, dictionary.com)
Origins of the Rougarou
The folklore of the Rougarou came across the Atlantic Ocean from France as people emigrated to Canada in the 16th century. According to Professor Barry Jean Ancelet of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette the story originated in Medieval France as a way to keep children out the forest. (2017, cryptoville.com)
Werewolves were the star of many different folklore stories in medieval times. Most stories that enter the folklore genre were told to keep children safe, and obedient to both their parents and in this case obedient to the Catholic Church as well.
The story of the Rougarou that was used to keep Catholics observant during Lent was that if you broke lent seven years in a row you would turn into a Rougarou. I am not sure if that would help to keep people in line as it seems quite lenient to me. But knowing how hard it is to follow through with lent nowadays it seems the world would be over-run by Rougaroux by now.
The Cajun Rougarou’s Appearance
The Rougarou is consistently described throughout Cajun Louisiana as 7 to 8 feet tall, with glowing red eyes and large, sharp teeth. It is also known to let out terrifying growls at night. Sounds a bit similar to the descriptions of a Bigfoot and the Skunk Ape. Click here to read about them.
The Rougarou is said to have the body of a hairy man, and the head of a wolf. It is supposed to stronger than any man and can run quickly like an animal.
The folklore of Cajun Louisiana also includes stories of other “were-creatures.” Not just werewolves but were-cows, were-owls, were-cranes, were-leopards, were-bears, were-panthers, and how about a were-pig? I am left thinking that Louisiana is a place I need to see.
Special Abilities of the Rougarou
- Shapeshifting- the Rougarou is said to switch between the “creature” form and its human form.
- Strength- it is said that the Rougarou can crush the bones of humans and animals alike.
- Speed- they are fast, which makes them even scarier.
Killing a Rougarou is said to involve decapitation of the creature, mutilation of the body, and then you should burn it in a fire. Wow! They sound like they are indestructible.
The folklore stories of the Rougarou are many and varied. Let’s review some of them.
In the 16th century version of the story, it was believed that you could become a Rougarou when something triggered the condition. It would make the victim’s body enlarge and they would crave raw meat. In order to completely become a Rougarou, the victim would be driven to take a bite of human flesh. (2016, Darcy Nadel for Exemplore.com)
One of the stories involves someone being cursed by a witch to become a Rougarou. The person is under the curse for 101 days and if they draw blood from another human that human will then be cursed. It is said that original person who was cursed will no longer become a Rougarou but will be weak and sickly from the experience.
There is another tale that if you are attacked by a Rougarou and it causes you to bleed the Rougarou will shapeshift into their human form right before your eyes. If you then tell anyone about what you saw within 101 days you will become a Rougarou too. Or even worse, if you tell anyone of your experience you will die, usually by your own hand. Okay, that went really dark, really quick.
Yet another version of the tale warns you to never look a Rougarou in the eyes or you will become one as well.
There is another version where the bloodletting victim needs to stay quiet about the encounter for one year and one day of they risk becoming a Rougarou too.
These tales are still told to children across Louisiana. Trisha Hukins grew up in Larose and remembers her family telling her, “to be home (before dark) before the Rougarou gets you.” She says that “We just knew about it. [It was] Just a part of life.” (cryptoville.com)
The Rougarou is large enough a piece of Louisiana folklore that it has even become a verb. As Juliet Henry uses the expression, “I made the Rougarou all night” to explain that she had a sleepless night. The tales have been around so long that her children even use this expression. (cryptoville.com)
I think it should be safe to say that the legend of the cajun Rougarou is folklore on steroids. But I have never been to Louisiana and have never spoken to anyone who grew up with the stories. Maybe a Cajun from Louisiana could make me into a believer. I will say that I do believe that there are creatures out in the world that have not been discovered. Maybe the Rougarou is one of them. Let us know what you think?
Until next time.
The Other Half