Rougarou: The Werewolf-like Beast Of The Bayou

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By: Alex Postrado

The Cajun Werewolf

Have you ever gone camping and felt like something was off?

You are unsure what it is, but you can’t seem to shake the feeling that someone, or something, is watching you 一 its gaze, following your every move.

You realize that you are camped near the boggy swamps of Cajun Country 一 right within the den of the legendary Rougarou.

Is it possible that you are under the watch of Louisiana’s werewolf-like monster?

Commonly depicted having a humanoid figure 一 a wolf’s head and a human’s body 一 the infamous Rougarou is part of a centuries-old story that is best known in the bayous of Cajun Country.

With origins going back to medieval-era France, here’s one scary story to complete your camping experience.

What is the Rougarou?

If you are a fan of both TV and the unexplained, then my best bet is that you are already familiar with the tale of the beastly Rougarou.

This monstrous creature was featured as Monster of the Week in Season 4, Episode 4 of the hit show, Supernatural.

And it has also been given prominence in the series, Cryptid: The Swamp Beast of the History Channel where it was depicted as a monster responsible for the deaths of animals and humans alike.

But before the Rougarou was featured as supernatural killing machines on TV, it had already been spreading terror in the French communities of Louisiana.

In fact, the werewolf-like creature is a staple in the country’s local horror circle!

The infamous Rougarou takes on a terrifying humanoid form, similar to the classic werewolf.

To add to the horror, they are also typically depicted to possess glowing red eyes, dark hair, and sharp fangs, and are known to have a particular liking for human flesh.

But despite this exterior, some say that the Cajun monster isn’t actually as terrifying as the tales make him out to be.

If truth be told, instead of just mindlessly going on one killing spree after another, stories tell of the Rougarou’s even more burning call to free itself from the curse that made it a monster in the first place.

And if destruction and bloodshed come along with that cause, then so be it!

The tale goes that when a human is cursed with lycanthropy 一 or the state of becoming a wolf and human hybrid 一 they become a Rougarou.

And according to the lore, the curse of the Rougarou can be retracted so long as it is successfully passed on to someone else.

But considering how far back the legend goes, it is only natural that there will be conflicting accounts about this part of the tale.

One of the most common versions of the story claims that if one gets bitten by a Rougarou, then they will take on the form of the monster for 101 days.

And during that time, they must draw another person’s blood to escape the hex. However, doing so will lead the other person to turn into a Rougarou.

Another popular version says that a cursed person will only transform into the beastly creature once it devours human flesh.

Lastly, other depictions of the age-old tale say that the curse of the Rougarou can only be passed down by a witch.

This can be done in either of the two ways:

  • First, with the witch turning into the Rougarou herself and biting a person who will suffer the affliction next.
  • Or second, by directly casting a spell of lycanthropy on the chosen victim.

In any of these cases, however, the victim would not be able to rid himself of the curse because only the witch is capable of doing that.

A Rougarou statue: Source

If by any chance, though, you fall victim to the Rougarou curse, you are bound to possess supernatural strength and heightened animal-like senses.

This, unfortunately, comes in a package 一 along with, perhaps, one of the most interesting folkloric flaws ever told.

The Rougarou allegedly cannot count past the number 12.

So, when presented with 13 small objects of any kind, the creature 一 perplexed 一 will try to count them. Constantly going over it until the sun comes up when it eventually has to escape!

Some say that presenting the creature with a colander also works because it will not stop counting the holes, giving you enough time to bolt.

Another weak point of the beast is fire.

According to the legend, the Rougarou 一 no matter how scary 一 can still be killed with fire.

Cajun Origins

Though typically attributed to Louisiana, the age-old tale of the Rougarou can actually be traced back to medieval France.

During the 16th century, French immigrants moved to Canada and the southern areas of the United States 一 all the while taking their culture, as well as some of their stories along with them, including one that would eventually inspire the legend of the Rougarou.

It revolves around the Loup-garou 一 a werewolf-like beast of olden-time France.

Back in the day, the Loup-garou provided some kind of explanation for grisly encounters that people find difficult to understand. Ever heard of it?

Rougarou Vs. Loup Garou

With immigration came the mixture of different languages, beliefs, and customs in order to adapt.

Originally, the infamous beast was known as the Loup-garou from the French word loup 一 meaning, “wolf” 一 and garou 一 from the Frankish word warulf 一 which is linked to the term “werewolf“.

Eventually, the Cajun dialect was established in the area 一 a mixture of French and English 一 known for altering words to “completely roll off the tongue easier“.

And with this, the name evolved from Loup-garou into Rougarou, which could also be spelled as roux-ga-roux, rugaroo, or rugaru.

After being passed down from family to family, the legend of the Rougarou eventually gained traction 一 even leading to horrifying public executions of people accused of being the fearsome monster.

You see, back in the 16th century, the Rougarou was constantly blamed for various crimes such as abductions and creating chaos in general.

Cases of missing children, thievery, and murder 一 all caused by the Rougarou!

In other accounts, the monster of the bayou was even known to track down and punish Catholics who do not observe Lent.

And in keeping with the theme, some believe that a Catholic who breaks Lent for seven years in a row will turn into the Rougarou.

A particular narrative that probably sprang from the fact that the area predominantly observes Catholicism 一 making the legend of the Rougarou the perfect cautionary tale!

Does the Rougarou Exist?

Although widely accepted as a legend, some accounts still maintain that the Rougarou actually exists. Some even claim to have seen the Rougarou firsthand!

But while the creature’s existence is still debated at this point, it has undoubtedly been embedded into the minds of the people in the Deep South.

In the form of either a boogeyman Cajun parents use in order to keep their children out of the treacherous bayou, a scary campsite story, or even a scare tactic to get Christians to observe Lent.

Enduring generations, migrations, and a hodgepodge of cultures 一 the tale of the Rougarou is one that evidently withstands the test of time.

References:

History Of The Rougarou: Louisiana’s Werewolf
Beware Of Louisiana’s Rougarou! Have You Heard Of The Creepy, Cajun Swamp Legend?
New Orleans Bayou Creature: The Rougarou
The Rougarou Is Gonna Get You: Cajun Folklore
The Rougarou: Louisiana's Cajun Werewolf
Legend Of The Rougarou: The Complete Loup-Garou Guide
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