Rougarou: The Cajun Werewolf
Guest Article written by Spencer Drake
“ The Process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination”
Hello fellow hunters of the unknown, and welcome to the Occult Chronicle, a semi-regular guest blog where I endeavor to shed light on the real world myths and legends that may have inspired parts of Arkham Horror the Card Game. In this first installment I will be looking at the Rougarou, a beast that haunts the bayous of New Orleans in the upcoming Print on Demand scenario The Curse of The Rougarou.
Let’s start as near to the beginning as we can; Werewolf-like creatures have haunted Humankind’s collective dreams throughout the ages, with beast-men showing up in what we can find of ancient societies. The Rougarou itself is connected to francophone cultures through a common belief, originating from the Laurentian area of France, in the loup-garou, which is a person who transforms into an animal. The loup-garou shares many similarities with other European werewolf stories and believes. Though how did it find its way to the sunny swamps of New Orleans?
The legends of the Rougarou have been spread through many generations via either French settlers directly from France or French Canadian immigrants. The Cajun myths themselves have many variations, from ways to scare children into obedience to scaring Catholics into not breaking Lent. One of these variations told of the Rougarou trying to provoke someone else to attack it, because having someone draw blood from you is a way for the curse to be transferred. While I doubt these stories’ influences will be shown in the scenario, I think the stories more akin to the classic werewolf curse stories will be.
Looking at the title we can surmise that wherever this Rougarou (or Rougarous, cause it’d be just like Fantasy Flight to overwhelm us with many, many horrors; much to our masochistic delight) comes from, it’s been cursed by someone. Now looking at other Cajun stories we can see that the classic “cursed by a witch” is a common cause of Lycanthropy. With voodoo practitioners being very prevalent in New Orleans, it’d be safe to say that one could curse someone with Lycanthropy. We even have an Ally that is a Bokor, which is a Voodoo sorcerer for hire who practices both good and evil magic. So we may have an evil voodoo sorcerer at the root of the curse. This idea brings me to the next bit of lore I am sure you’ll enjoy; Manchac Swamp and the Voodoo Priestess Julia Brown.
Manchac Swamp is said to be the home of the Rougarou and to be haunted by undead. This sounds like a great place to go hunting for all things that would eat away your sanity (road trip anyone?). But, according to legend, the undead and the Rougarou are the least of your worries. Enter, Julia Brown. Julia Brown was a very powerful Voodoo Priestess, who happened to be quite evil. She predicted many a town’s demise and near her death she could be heard repeatedly singing “One Day I’m gonna die, and I’m gonna take all of you with me.” Turns out, she was right; in 1915, the day of her funeral, a hurricane destroyed three villages in her area, killing hundreds. It’s said that bodies of the victims still surface today. It is also said that she still haunts the swamp, with screams being heard and the sound of Julia singing her song.
It would be quite the thing if she was the one who laid the curse upon the Rougarou and we have to pit ourselves against her black magic and who knows what else she may have conjured up from beyond the veil. Either way I am excited for the first scenario to come out with a bang, who wouldn’t want to hunt a werewolf? Especially one with such a great Cajun flair!
I hope you enjoyed this guest blog, I hope to do more in the future! If you have any occult curiosities you’d like me to write about let me know on Discord, @Arkuden.