A Wolf in Man’s Clothing: Queen Sugarcane and the Rougarou

 

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Credit to Rougaroufest

In the OWN series Queen Sugar, the Bordelon siblings face many obstacles as they try to breathe life into their father’s abandoned sugarcane fields. If they didn’t have enough trouble with the metaphorical wolf in man’s clothing *coughMr.Landrycough*, trying to wreak havoc on their enterprise, they also have to deal with an obstacle of mythical proportions. The legend of the rougarou, a deadly predator who is fond of lurking in the swamps, forests, and sugarcane fields of Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, will also wreck their farming dreams.

This half man, half wolf creature, originally known as the loup-garou, dates back to medieval France. It initially served as a warning to those who either broke their vows during Lent or disobeyed the rules of the Catholic religion. The early French settlers to Louisiana brought the legend with them and put a Cajun twist on it. The word loup-garou morphed into rougarou and the werewolf took on a region specific retelling. The rougarou became synonymous with any half wolf, dog, pig, or chicken creature in the area, but is commonly depicted as a werewolf. The defining features in whatever form are sharp teeth, glowing red eyes, and a towering height of seven to eight feet. Depending on the oral tradition, a witch or another rougarou can convert you into the supernatural being. In some cases, some people voluntarily take on the curse of lycanthropy and become a part of North American folklore.

Thankfully, for the sake of the Bordelons, there are ways to prevent the rougarou from causing destruction. These old methods will appeal to resident earth mama, Nova Bordelon, and Southern traditionalist, Aunt Violet, alike. The easiest way to not be werewolf bait is to avoid ambling out into the darkness. Rougarous are eager to pass on the curse of lycanthropy to unsuspecting people under the veil of the night. For those who can not resist the nightlife, there are a few other prevention methods. The midnight-strolling fellas can place a leaf from the swamp in their wallets to repel any bites. Women are told to paint a hexagon in the middle of their floors and pray for protection from the rougarou. If you hear about a rougarou prowling in your area, you can protect your home by placing thirteen small objects in the doorways and windows of your home. The presence of a thirteenth object will trip up the rougarou and it will struggle to count past twelve until the sun rises and it is forced to return to the swamps.

If you decide to throw caution to the wind and come face to face with one (probably Ralph Angel in this case, if I am being honest), remember a few things. Do not, under any circumstances, make eye contact with it. This can lead to an unexpected transformation. Those unfortunate enough to have a few drops of blood spilled by the rougarou are bound to them for one hundred and one days. During that time, the victim is sworn to silence about the condition. The spell can be broken prematurely if the rougarou bites another victim and transfers the curse from the afflicted to another person. Either way, the person can never speak of the encounter again, for fear of shame and of being killed by the creature who cursed them.

It is only halfway through the season and there is still plenty of time left for more demons to snag the Bordelons in their claws. We can only hope that either Prosper or Remy remembered to warn them of the ever-present danger of the rougarou creeping around their field, for the sole purpose of trying to avoid the difficult tasks of replacing farmhands.