Loup Garou (Rougarou): The Cajun Legend

A loup garou is a mythical creature in French, Canadian and American folklores which is believed to come into existence as a result of a curse. It is basically the same thing with a rougarou/rugaru/roux-ga-roux/rugaroo.

The word “loup-garou” is derived from French. In French language, the word loup means wolf while garoul means a man who can turn into a wolf – basically werewolf in English.

The belief in loup garous is especially strong among French Canadians, Cajun people and the people of Louisiana.

According to a Cajun legend, loup garous wander around in forests and swamps of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana. These creatures have a man’s body and a wolf’s head very similar to the legends regarding werewolves/lycanthropes (read here).

Stories in Cajun folklore about the loup garou were mostly used to scare children in teaching them how to behave.

On a side note, loup-garous were believed to hunt and kill Catholic Christians not observing Lent and abide by its rules. Lent is a religious observance period of repentance, fasting and preparation for the Easter (that takes 40 days excluding Sundays).

Loup Garou Curse – How Does One Become a Loup Garou?

There are different beliefs in different folklores regarding the loup garou curse.

One of these beliefs related to French Catholics suggests that a person will transform into a loup garou/rougarou if he breaks the rules of Lent for 7 consecutive years.

According to another belief, the transformation of a human being into a loup garou results from a spell. A person put under the loup garou curse will remain in that form for 101 days  and the curse will be passed onto another human being when the loup garou draws that person’s blood.

Another myth suggests that only a witch can put a loup garou curse on a person either by becoming a wolf herself or simply cursing people with lycanthropy.

An expert on Cajun folklore, Professor Barry Jean Ancelet of the University of Louisiana wrote in an article that loup garous were a result of a curse but sometimes a person voluntarily chose to become one.

Some stories suggest that, by means of therianthropy – the ability of metamorphosing into animals, a person can transform into a loup garou/rougarou.

The origin of the myth regarding loup garous dates back to medieval France. The myth changed with time and in the 16th century people started to believe the loup garou curse was genetic and not something that could be transferred from one person to another.

This myth also involved a trigger for the curse. According to the belief, some event in this person’s life triggered his condition (although there is no specific information regarding the kind of event in question since this is an oral tradition passed on from generation to generation ).

His body enlarged and he got a craving for raw meat. The transformation process was completed when this person took a bite of human flesh.

Loup Garou in Native American Folklore

Loup garou is mostly identified with wendigo in Native American folklore. These two creatures are defined to have same characteristics. That being said, one must become a cannibal to become a wendigo according to the belief.

Abilities and Weaknesses of Loup Garous

According to the myths, loup garous become able to shapeshift after they east a piece of human flesh. They have superman strength to the extent that they can easily break bones in addition to being super fast and agile creatures.

Some people believe that loup garous are weak against fire and fire is the only way to destroy these creatures. Others believe that decapitation will do the job and this is the way to kill a loup garou/rougarou.

Mutilating the body and cutting it into small pieces is the only sure way to kill a loup garou according to another myth.

In conclusion, the loup garou legend changed greatly throughout history and it still keeps changing with today’s popular culture references and/or additions to the story.

Some people even suggest that the stories regarding loup garou are derived from the myth regarding the Bigfoot. The loup garou/rougarou, in the end, is a mythical creature the existence of which is yet to be proven.

If you would like to learn more on the loup garou, you can read the articles and books written by Professor Barry Jean Ancelet who is one of the few experts on this specific part of Cajun folklore.

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