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Louisiana Werewolf: Rougarou of the Bayou

Urban legends have always fascinated Phyllis. Some of them frighten her, but she will write about them anyway.

The Louisiana bayou is beautiful, but don't go in too deep; rougarou might be in there.

The Louisiana bayou is beautiful, but don't go in too deep; rougarou might be in there.

The Rougarou of the Bayou

Louisiana is a fascinating place whose history is rich with legends from long ago. Is there a Louisiana werewolf? Well, the rougarou of the Bayou country has a pretty strong link to the werewolf of ancient times in Europe and France. Louisiana is a lovely place to visit. However, if you do go there, it is wise to consult long-time residents on the local legends of the area, especially about creatures like the rougarou of the Bayou. It is always good to know which areas should be avoided.

What Is a Rougarou?

Similar to the European werewolf, the rougarou is a man who can shape-shift or transform into a creature. The name rougarou comes from a variant pronunciation and spelling of the French loup-garou. Loup is the French word for wolf, and garou is a man who transforms into an animal.

In the French Louisiana areas, the rougarou has been the stuff of legends for several generations. The legends originally came from either the early French settlers or the French-Canadian immigrants (Acadia) centuries ago.

Apparently, the Cajuns believe the creature prowls in the swamps around Acadia and Greater New Orleans. It might also be lurking around fields, forests, and maybe just anywhere it chooses to. It is a creature with a human body and a wolf head.

In Laurentian (Laurentian Mountain range) French communities, there are legends of the werewolf. Now, a werewolf, or lycanthrope, is a human who has the rare ability to shape-shift into a creature with a wolf head and human body. The rougarou has this same ability; therefore, it has strong links to the werewolf.

From Deep in the Ancient Laurentian Mountains

The Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec, Canada, are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world—and they may hide many mysteries and legends. One of these legends is that the rougarou came from this area.

Within this mountain range, there can be found rocks that were there over 540 million years ago, which is before the Cambrian Period. This geological timeline was the first period in the Paleozoic Era. The Paleozoic Era began with an explosion of geological, climate-related, and evolutionary changes—with the Cambrian Period seeing the greatest changes of life in the history of the Earth.

The Great Dying

The Paleozoic Era then ended with the "Great Dying"—the largest, most devastating extinction event in Earth's history. The possible cause was more than likely several catastrophic events that came together and formed one source of almost total devastation.

It took the Earth a long time to recover, up to 10 million years, according to geologists. Could anything at all have survived this catastrophe or possibly been formed by many different cells, organisms, vertebrate species, or other forms of life? Well, there are reports of strange creatures being seen around the world. Is it possible the rougarou and other such oddities are descendants of ancient deformed ancestors? It does give one something to ponder on.

Extent of Grenville Orogeny Mesoproterozoic mountain-building event in the USA

Extent of Grenville Orogeny Mesoproterozoic mountain-building event in the USA

The Grenville Orogeny

Here is more to ponder on: The Laurentian Mountain range is a central part of the Grenville orogeny, which was 1100 to 1000 million years ago. What, you may ask, does all this have to do with the rougarou? Well, hold on for a minute while we look back, far back in time.

An "orogeny" is a time, or era, of the process of mountains building up a range. The Grenville orogeny is what resulted from a continental collision when the eastern part of the United States was formed, and the Appalachian Mountains were born—hence the Eastern Continental Divide. The Appalachians extend down towards Louisiana. Is it possible the rougarou migrated over time from all those ancient mountains to Louisiana?

Well, enough of geology and continental collisions; let's get back to the rougarou legend.

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Read More From Exemplore

A Cajun cabin in the bayou which could be Dieter's place.

A Cajun cabin in the bayou which could be Dieter's place.

Ol' Uncle Dieter

Now, ol' Uncle Dieter was born in the Bayou and has no fear of the rougarou—that is, when he has had enough of his moonshine. That old man has quite a knowledge of the rougarou and unending tales to tell.

He can spin some yarns that will make your hair stand on end and give you some pretty large goosebumps. It doesn't hurt anyone for tourists and children to pay attention to his wild stories; it will keep them out of the Bayou for sure.

Uncle Dieter is pretty hard to find, though. He lives deep in the swamp land. Sometimes he is not seen for 100 days or so. Kind of makes us wonder some.

Werewolf and a full moon on a misty night

Werewolf and a full moon on a misty night

Teach Your Children Well

Like many tales and lore about creatures, the stories about the rougarou are often used to fill children with fear of going to certain places the parents do not want them in—or to keep them from being out too late at night. Putting the fear of a scary creature into kids is supposed to inspire obedience and make the kids mind their parents. It's a horrible thought to scare a child like that, but it does happen.

Some say the rougarou is a headless horseman, much like the one Ichabod Crane had a problem with. It has sometimes been said that a witch can transform into a rougarou, or make a rougarou by putting a curse on others.

One of the most common versions is that one who becomes a rougarou will remain under that spell for 101 days. When the 101 days are up, the curse is transferred to another person by blood sucking. The original rougarou then returns to a normal human—yet, if he tells anyone about his experience, he will be killed by the one he drew blood from. That seems rather ungrateful, but one cannot tell a rougarou what not to do.

End of Summer

As summer comes close to ending and cooler weather approaches, tales of the rougarou begin anew and are often embellished year after year. And the closer it gets to Halloween, the more outlandish the stories get.

It has been known that the creature will roam the streets at night, antagonizing everyone it meets until someone stabs or shoots it. The rougarou will purposely do this because it returns to the original human form at the first drop of blood. He can then tell his attacker who he really is. The trick is, though, that the person who attacked the rougarou cannot tell you, or anyone, about this for 101 days—or he, too, will become a rougarou.

Protection From the Rougarou

Now then, there are ways to keep the rougarou away from you. You can roll up a leaf from the swamps and keep it in your wallet. Or, if you are creative, paint a hexagram shape on the middle of your floor, stand in the center of it, and say prayers to protect you. However, if you do not believe the rougarou stories are true, and you do nothing, you may be heading for a bout or two with a rougarou.

So, it stands to reason that if you do intend to visit the Bayou areas, you should not be doing any rougarou'in (staying out late and running around the streets)—unless you think you might be staying for at least 101 days.

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 09, 2019:

Hi Ghostwood. Thank you for reading and for your interesting comment.

Ghostwood on June 30, 2019:

Hi. I first heard of "rougarou" or as I heard it, "rougarouk" back in the 1970's called "Moon of the Wolf". An old man said the word. Translated by Louise Rodanthe (Played by Barbara Rush) she said, "Aaron, it's his dialect. He's saying Loup-garou! He's saying werewolf!"

I am fascinated by the Ghosts and Legends of Louisiana.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 07, 2019:

Hi dab bad. Thank you for reading and commenting..

dab bad on May 01, 2019:

just good i'm doing a resch

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 14, 2018:

Thank you, Shawn Williams. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Shawn Williams on August 11, 2018:

I read ur stories and liked it. You know u should make a tv show on a hunt of a half man half wolf. Like they made a show of big foot. Not maken fun of ur stories at all i myself would love to just go there and put up camera up and see if i can get one come across my game cameras. So i joyed reading ur stories.

Nick on July 24, 2018:

Yes its real I know someone who saw it in the 1990's Oakdale la 71463 7th St close to Trinity Church

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on October 21, 2015:

Hi Ken. Glad you enjoyed the stories. Thank you.

ken meaux on October 21, 2015:

I enjoyed all stories of the Werewolf in Louisiana. And, oh YES! There are Werewolves in Louisiana.

Ken Meaux Cajun Mystic

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 10, 2015:

Hi Lori and welcome. Thank you so much for your delightful contribution to my article by sharing your childhood story and other information. This is great and I enjoyed reading your comment. I definitely will look into the Feu Follet of Jean Lafitte. How fun the Rougarou Fest must be. Thanks again. I hope you come visit again. Take care - and behave yourself in the car !!! hahahaha

Lori Bennett on July 10, 2015:

Hi Phyllis,

This was a fun read. I am a native of Des Allemands, Louisiana and resident if Houma, Louisiana (home of the Rougarou Fest). Everyone from the Bayou Regions, typically considered to be below I10 and west if New Orleans, knows about the Rougarou and you are right, the versions vary typically from Bayou to Bayou. Growing up it was used as a cautionary tale in my home and as a threat of good behavior. My parents would threaten to leave us on the side if the road for the Rougarou (something they would have never actually followed through with) if we were misbehaving in the car. As it happens this was always on Hwy. 90, between Raceland and Des Allemands, at dusk, with very few streetlight at the time while passing through the wooded areas. Anyhow, even as a child I found this tale captivating, a half man half monster, or wolf based on the old loup garou legends. In some tales, if the identity of the Rougarou was found out, the person baring that knowledge would have to keep the secret for a year and a day to relieve the Rougarou of its curse. In others, you could protect yourself by keeping 13 small objects, like pennies, on your window sills and door steps. Supposedly the Rougarou is none to bright and a bit compulsive. He can't count past 12 and wouldn't stop counting until all the items were countef or until the sun rose. Have some fun and look into the Lutin (lou -tan, though the n is actually silent) and the Feu Follet (fee foe lay) or the burried treasures of Jean Lafitte.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on April 15, 2015:

Hi Jamie. How interesting about the swamps. I bet one could easily get lost in there. Likelihood of beasts and monsters high? Spooky. Still it must be an interesting place with its own peculiar beauty.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jamie. I appreciate it.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on April 15, 2015:

I lived in Louisiana for four years during my early twenties. Those swamps go on forever and the likelihood of beasts and monsters is high. Great hub it brought back memories. Jamie

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on December 04, 2014:

That is really interesting, mel.

mel on December 04, 2014:

Yes, there are werewolves in Louisiana. Go to rural highways outside of Coushatta, La on a full moon night. I was working that night, driving on a two lane highway looking for the oil rig I was delivering to. It was big, like a man, but not like one either. Scariest damn thing I've ever encountered, and I've been around enough bears to know the difference!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on September 28, 2014:

Hi Arachnea. Loup Garou is French for werewolf and Rougarou is very similar, a little less violent, but still a shapeshfter. In the old, old days is when parents used stories like this to keep kids away from dangerous places, like the swamps. Today people are not quite as superstitious. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a great day.

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on September 28, 2014:

Great hub. I'd heard of Loup Garou (are they related) before but not Rougarou. So, I had to stop in and read more. As for parents using these critters to scare kids, I think there's enough scariness in the world these days as far as what human beings are doing to other people and animals that the fright legends now seem tame. The 101 days rule is interesting. It's an interesting variation on the theme of were and shape-shifter lore.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 15, 2014:

I found some videos about the Rougarou- hope you enjoy them.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 30, 2014:

Thanks, Joe -- so glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing the hub.

Joe from north miami FL on May 30, 2014:

It's crazy the amount of fame werewolves have received over the years. So many places have its story and its different in many other cultures. Loved the Louisiana one I just read.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 11, 2013:

Mike, it is good to hear from you. Hope all is well for you. Thank you so much for the visit and comment -- I really appreciate it.

Mike Robbers from London on August 11, 2013:

Great hub, Phyllis and such a fascinating story of the Rougarou legend.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 08, 2013:

Sheila, thank you for the visit and comment. I like to study how different cultures and countries tell their legends -- there are always many variations. Thanks again, I really appreciate your visit.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 08, 2013:

Amethystraven, thank you for the visit and comment, I really appreciate it. I love lore and legends and know that many legends start with truths. Oral retelling of stories often has added comments of the storyteller, thus, the legend grows far away from the original true story.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 08, 2013:

Alisha, it is funny you say you have not heard of the Rougarou. My future son-in-law is from Louisiana, and he also says he never heard this legend before. I found out about it a few years ago and decided to write the article, based on research. When I started writing on folklore legends, I found a lot of legends in my home land of the Pacific Northwest that I had never heard before. I find it interesting and puzzling that many people do not hear about legends in the own areas. Thanks for the visit and comment.

sheilamyers on August 08, 2013:

Interesting hub. It's always intriguing to see how some of these legends differ in various parts of the world. Like with this one, they say it has a mans body but a wolf's head. In some places it's a complete change.

Amethystraven from California on August 08, 2013:

This is a great hub. Folklore and legends always interest me because there seems to be a little bit if truth to them. I look for ward t reading more hubs like this. Thank you.

Alisha Adkins from New Orleans on August 08, 2013:

Very interesting! Although a Louisiana resident and native, I have never heard of a Rougarou.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 07, 2013:

Ah hahaha, Nell, you are delightful ! I am so glad you enjoyed the read. I had great fun with this hub. When I was a kid, I loved watching werewolf movies, the really old ones with Lon Chaney. He was such a good werewolf. Thank you so much for the visit, vote and sharing -- I really appreciate it.

Nell Rose from England on August 07, 2013:

Lol! I love the 'Well you can't tell a Rougarou what not to do!' this was great phyllis! I love all these legends, and yes it does sound like loup garou, its amazing how many legends like this exist, I do wonder where they all came from, but I am glad they did! you did a great job here, and it was fascinating reading, thanks! voted up shared etc!

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