Monster Monday: Leshy

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Leshy.

"Leshi" - Illustration from a magazine c. 1906
“Leshi” – Illustration from a magazine c. 1906

In Slavic folklore, a leshy is a spirit of the forest. He protects the birds and the animals and tells them when to migrate. He can shapeshift into many different forms. As a human he has horns and pale blue skin and bright green eyes and a long white beard. He wears his shoes backwards and carries a club to symbolize his mastery of the forest.

A leshy is not evil, but he does like to play tricks. He enjoys getting travelers lost by removing road signs or imitating the voices of loved ones. He is also known to steal and hide the axes of woodcutters. If a traveler finds himself lost in the forest and thinks a leshy is responsible, he must remove all his clothing and put it on inside-out as well as put his shoes on the opposite feet in order to find his way out again.

Sometimes nearby farmers and shepherds make pacts with a leshy to watch over their crops and their herds. A leshy can keep sheep and cattle from wandering too far into the forest and keep predators away.

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