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Letiche

From Kook Science

Letiche (létiche) is an appellation that refers to both a spirit in French folklore and a wild man in south Louisianan folklore, the latter potentially being an embellishment on the first.

Accounts

As a child spirit

In the older French lore, the létiche is described as the ghost of an unbaptised child "who appears at night in the form of a small white animal,"[1] compared to the ermine or stoat; and, in later Louisianan lore, while it likewise originates as an unbaptised child, the form is said to be that of an aquatic spirit of the bayou, one that harangues and seeks to overturn boats.

Notations

  • Sorbier, A. M. (1844), "La Létiche (Légende)", in Le Flaguais, Joseph Alphonse, Les Neustriennes: Chroniques, Légendes, Ballades et Impressions, Derache, p. 572-574, https://books.google.com/books?id=G6EuAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA572  — a French poem on the ghostly entity
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847), refers to "the white Létiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened / Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children."
  • The Louisiana Writers' Project in Louisiana: a Guide to the State (New York: Hastings House, 1941), refers to the "Letiche of Terrebonne Parish, the soul of an unbaptized infant who swims the bayous, upsetting pirogues whenever possible."

As a half-alligator hybrid

In the more modern accounts, the lore typically being ascribed to unidentified Native American and Cajun sources, letiche refers to a human that was raised by alligators, particularly a foundling that has grown into an brutish carnivore of the deep swamp, transformed such that it has the traits of both the human and alligator parents. The origin of this version of the letiche is not clear.

Notations

  • Thompson, Dave (2010), Bayou Underground: Tracing the Mythical Roots of American Popular Music, ECW Press, p. 292, "Though Loup Carou is a Cajun term (one that more recent lore has muddled up with the werewolf), the Native Americans who lived here knew it as the Letiche: a human child indeed, but one which was taken in by alligators, which raised the babe as their own, taught it their own behavior and mannerisms, until it had grown into a vast flesh-eating half-man, half-reptilian monstrosity." 
  • Blackman, W. Haden (1998), The Field Guide to North American Monsters, New York: Three Rivers Press, p. 171, 242 

References

  1. "A Critical Study of Evangeline", New York Teachers' Monographs, 7, 1905, p. 112, https://books.google.com/books?id=1BFRAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA3-PA112, "Line 282, Létiche: According to the peasants of France, the soul of a child who has died unchristened appears at night in the form of a small white animal. The name comes from the French word lait, meaning milk"