“Beware of the loup garou!” Mitch, owner of Houseboat Adventures, was being playful and funny as he shoved off in his boat leaving my friends and I on a rudimentary houseboat lashed to a cypress tree in the middle of the Henderson Swamp. We laughed it off too, silly swamp monster myths. But come nightfall when there’s nothing to see but pitch black and maybe the sparkle of alligator eyes creeping on you in the darkness, you start to wonder if the alligators may be the only lurking threat keeping an eye on you.
The Rougarou, also known as the loup-garou, is the legendary werewolf shape-shifter of Cajun folklore believed to live in the shadows and haunt the streets, bayous and swamps of Southern Louisiana. Origins of this myth can be traced to both secular and non-secular sources. You were either scared into Catholic submission by tales of this monster (especially during Lent), or there was the fear of being cursed by a witch into being the Rougarou yourself (a spell that supposedly lasted 101 days).
I asked a few of my Cajun friends to tell me what they know about this spooky creature, and this is what I heard back:
“He’s like a swamp werewolf type. But not like ‘….and we saw the rougarou’ – it’s just the boogieman of the swamp. If he catches you he’ll put you under his spell.” - Paige
“His eyes glow green at night and we called him the loup garou. He stinks. Howls like a cross between a man and a coyote.” - Nick
“I refused to trick or treat when I was in preschool because I was scared of him. I still remember how scared I was.” - Sarah
“ I don’t know that much but my friend read online that the rougarou can only count to 12 so you’re all good if you leave 13 items out on your porch. He will be distracted by his endless loop of counting and will not come inside to get you.” - Emily
Sadly, the Rougarou Fest held in Houma, LA was canceled this year due to inclement weather, but I’ve got it on my calendar for next year. Seems like the perfect event for celebrating our most frightening month.
Do you believe in the Rougarou??
Tell us what you know!
On the other hand, if you know who made all of the beautifully frightening art and images in this post, please share and we'll provide the proper credit!