The rougarou (alternatively spelled as roux-ga-roux, rugaroo, or rugaru) is a legendary creature in French communities linked to traditional concepts of the werewolf.

Versions edit

The stories of the creature known as a rougarou are as diverse as the spelling of its name, though they are all connected to francophone cultures through a common derived belief in the loup-garou (French pronunciation: [lu ɡaˈʁu], /ˈl ɡəˈr/). Loup is French for wolf, and garou (from Frankish warulf, cognate with English werewolf) is a man who transforms into an animal.

American folklore edit

A traditional Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras costume based on a Rougarou (figure on left)
Statue representation of the Rougarou at Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, Louisiana

"Rougarou" represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou.[1] According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana.[2] Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou.

The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.

In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions.[citation needed] The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.

Often the story-telling has been used to inspire fear and obedience. One such example is stories that have been told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. According to another variation, the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent.[3] This coincides with the French Catholic loup-garou stories, according to which the method for turning into a werewolf is to break Lent seven years in a row.[citation needed]

A common blood sucking legend says that the rougarou is under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse is transferred from person to person when the rougarou draws another human's blood. During that day the creature returns to human form. Although acting sickly, the human refrains from telling others of the situation for fear of being killed.[2]

Other stories range from the rougarou as a rabbit to the rougarou being derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch can make a rougarou—either by turning into a wolf herself, or by cursing others with lycanthropy.[4]

In popular culture edit

The "rugaru" is mentioned as having come to Dakota consciousness from Ojibwa folktales, and figures both thematically and experientially in the narrative of Peter Mathiessen's In The Spirit of Crazy Horse (Viking, 1983).

Rougarou is what Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester have been hunting in Supernatural (season 4) episode Metamorphosis. It was depicted as a man slowly becoming bloodthirsty and completely losing control upon feasting on human flesh.

The NBA team formerly known as the New Orleans Hornets filed for several new name trademarks among which was the Rougarous.[5]

Boxer Regis Prograis (of Creole descent) goes by the nickname Rougarou.[6]

The rougarou is incorporated into the story of an episode of the American television show NCIS: New Orleans. In the episode a victim is killed while investigating a possible sighting of the rougarou, which occurs in the 20th episode of the sixth season.[7]

The novel Empire of Wild (2019; Penguin Random House Canada) by Cherie Dimaline is "inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities."[8]

The show Shadow of the Rougarou (2022, APTN lumi, AppleTV+), by Métis director Jordan Waunch, was created with the guidance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers in order to best represent the communal oral story.[9]

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ LSU Cajun-French Glossary Archived 2005-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b The Nicholls Worth; interview with Barry Ancelet Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "History of the Rougarou: Louisiana's Werewolf | Pelican State of Mind". 30 October 2017. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  4. ^ New Orleans Gothic legend Archived 2005-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Chouinard, K L (18 December 2012). "NBA Files For Trademark Names On Behalf Of The Hornets". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Eyeing world title shot, boxer Regis Prograis releases emotional video touting his ties to New Orleans". 22 February 2018.
  7. ^ "NCIS: New Orleans's Necar Zadegan on Hannah's Risking Her Career for the Greater Good of Women". Parade. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  8. ^ Jason Sheehan, "'Empire Of Wild' Tells A Small Story — But Not A Slight One". NPR, July 29, 2020.
  9. ^ Crystal St. Pierre, "Métis werewolf stalks trapper in new micro-series". Toronto Star, April 29, 2022.