Rougarou, also spelled Roux-Ga-Roux, Rugaroo, Rugaru, or Loup Garou is a werewolf type creature found in the folklore of Cajun French Louisiana. The story originates in France during medieval times and was used to make sure that children behaved properly or didn’t wander off into the woods at night.
Legend says the Rougarou can found in the Louisiana swamps, hunting down Catholics who don’t observe Lent and children who don’t behave. Lent is traditionally a time of fasting primarily observed by Catholics and Christians which begins on Ash Wednesday. It then extends about six weeks ending just before Easter Sunday.
According to Jonathan Foret, executive director of South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, the actual French pronunciation is “loup-garou,” which is the French word for werewolf.
“Over the years in Southern Louisiana, it kind of morphed into Rougarou, which is also a correct pronunciation for it nowadays,” Foret told Fox8.
He also mentions that at least for him, this legend was passed down by his parents and now, as an adult, he knows even more about the creature. But that is also because of the Rougarou Fest that now occurs annually in Houma, La. on the last weekend of October.
A commonly belief is that a person can become a Rougarou by not observing Lent for about 7 consecutive years. This was later molded by the parents to keep a check on their kids. Parents would commonly tell their children, “You better behave or the Rougarou is going to get you,” Foret said.
This legend most likely spread from French and French-Canadian settlers who came to settle in Cajun Louisiana. Over the years, the tales may have morphed, but they still retain modern versions of those old cautionary tales. Most of the stories are focused around a man in the shape of a dog, or half-man, half-dog according to Mr.Foret.
Apart from not observing Lent, there are also other ways to get turned into a Rougarou. It is believed that one can become one if he gets cursed by a witch. At which point it is especially hard to get rid of the curse. The only way to do so is to get someone else to cut you and draw blood, thus transferring the curse onto them and releasing you of the curse — but then they would become a Rougarou. And the only way to stop a Rougarou at point-blank is by decapitation.
There are two possible ways to protect yourself against a Rougarou attempting to enter your home though. Both having a sort of old-world superstitious charm behind their reasoning. One of them being to place 13 pennies, rocks or any other small object, which is 13 in number, on your doorstep or windowsill. Mr. Foret said that a Rougarou can not count more than 12 objects, so upon trying to count up to 13, it would become perplexed. This would prevent it from entering your home and keep it at bay. It would eventually retreat as the sunrise approaches.
“Apparently the Rougarou is not good at math because it can only count to 12,” Foret said. So placing a colander is also believed to get the job done because they would try counting the holes in that.
Rougarou Fest is organized every year in Terrebonne Parish to keep the tradition alive and also to pass on these tales.
“It’s important for the next generation of kids living on the bayou to understand,” Foret said. He insists that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in transforming into a Rougarou. But you can’t argue against the age-old logic of being better safe than sorry.