Up until now my folklore posts have consisted of mythological creatures that I know something of, today I thought I'd explore one totally unknown to myself, today I thought I'd find out about the Leshy, the Leshachikha/Leszachka (wives of the Leshy), and the Leshonky (children of the Leshy). Easier said than done, this creature remains somewhat mystical in that none of the sites I visited seemed to agree on just what the Leshy looked like or his 'personality' though most agreed that he is .......
A male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology, a protector of forests and the creatures that live therein.
Often heard laughing, whistling or singing, the Leshy is seldom seen and not always recognised. In human form he is often seen as a peasant though with glowing eyes and 'backward' facing shoes. Whilst at other times he is seen as a tall man with a beard and hair made of grasses, is of pale skin, has the brightest of green eyes, has a tail, hooves and horns, and, it is said, is able to change in size from the smallest blade of grass to the tallest of trees depending on where he is. Oh, and he has a pointy head, is missing his right ear and is without hat or belt. OR is he blue of skin with green hair and a long beard across his face? Then again he may appear as a giant, talking mushroom.
Of good humour, he enjoys playing jokes on people, getting enjoyment out of confusing them by magically altering paths and making trees seem to move. Also a teacher of magic to those who befriend him, be warned though he can be dangerous when angry and has been known to tickle people to death.
Sounds like a harmless enough character, right?
Not according THE WITCHER WIKI.COM who claim that in reality the Leshy is in fact a dangerous creature who hunts both woodland creatures and lone travellers. A cross between a wildcat and a bear with mighty fangs and sharp claws, the Leshy moves amongst the tree branches from which it quickly jumps to reach its prey, devouring it whole. Agreeing that it is able to shapeshift into human form, The Witcher Wiki describe the Leshy in his man form as looking old and harmless.
Whoa there, 'had your horses' as my nana would say, you mentioned tickling to death, there's nothing harmless about that.
More mischievous than anything else, the Leshy simply love a good prank such as imitating the voices of people familiar to the lone wanderer and luring them back to their caves where they are, well, playfully tickled ..... to death. Then, of course, there's the kidnapping of young woman - all good fun really.
Not wishing to hang around to see if the Leshy wants to teach you magic, tickle you to death or devour you whole, on encountering one you must turn your clothes inside out and put them on backwards, place your shoes on the opposite feet and, in the worse case scenario (and hoping you haven't been eaten/tickled to death by the time you've done this), set the forest ablaze and RUN, all the while hoping that the Leshy isn't fancying you barbecued but will be so concerned with putting the fire out that he will forget all about you.