The leshy, is a forest spirit, that lives in Slavic forests and they often considered to be of the fae. They, like many other mythological creatures are shape-shifters and can change from their usual human like appearance to any animal or plant they wish to. In their human form, they are said to have hair and beards of long grass, rather than what we think of as hair, and the same is said for their eyebrows. They have long arms and legs, which seem elongated compared to mortal human proportions. Eerily, they have no shadow, and if they do it is not perceivable to the human eye. Their eyes however, cannot be missed, and are big, bright and are a vibrant green, drawing you in. He carries a club which is symbolic of his position as lord of the forest. They also have a bluish ting to their cheeks, whereas in humans, the cheeks are often flushed in pinkish tones. This is because the leshy has blue blood.
These creatures are the protectors of the forest. They work closely with wolves and bears and naturally, their protection of the forest extends to its inhabitants, they being the animals, and plants. They especially want to protect the forest from deforestation by developers. They are believed to be territorial spirits and will be protective of their portion of the forest. Have you ever seen fallen trees in the middle of a forest? These are evidence of the fights the have with other leshy in defense of their territory. That being said, they are not an exclusivly solitary fairy. They fall slightly in between and will often take a wife and have children and they will play tricks as a family.
The leshy also takes care of the migration of animals.
The leshy also has it’s own personal protection. In the center of the forest, they retain full size, but as they move further out towards the edge of the forest, in either direction, they decrease in size and eventually, as they reach the edge of the forest, they will have become small enough to hide themselves under leaves, keeping themselves secreted away from human eyes. This is another aspect of their shape-shifting abilities.
The leshy, also like many other mythological creatures, is a bit of a trickster, though not usually malicious. They have been known to take amusement in tricking humans
by luring them onto the wrong trail during their travels, takings them deeper into the forests and very far off their path, causing them to become lost. The leshy will often release the traveler once they have had their fun and if lucky, the person will find their way to the correct path again, but others are not so lucky. One reason why the leshy can sometimes be deemed to be evil, and why it can be frightening to people is the leshys tendency to trick people through mimicking the voice of a friend, or another lost traveler. They will call out, causing the traveller to go deeper into the forest, or even a cave in search of the voice they heard call out for help. Once the leshy has its victim, it will proceed to tickle the poor person to death. Whether this is deliberate or accidental, we do not know, but they certainly do not know when enough is enough. However, if they choose, they also have the power to make the person ill.
They are also known to steal woodcutters axes, causing them confusion and inability to finish their work, which is very bad news for the woodcutter who relies on the cutting and selling of wood for their livelihood
A with much lore, there are precautions that people believed would defer the leshy or set them free from its trickery. Much of the time, knowledge of precautions such as these, gave people who believed in the lore some comfort that things could be just fine if they took the correct action. To free yourself from the leshys mischievous antics you could, turn all your clothes backwards and wear your shoes on the wrong feet and proceed to sit under a tree. The leshy will respect this person for their cleverness and leave them be. Probably walking away, saying “well played dude, well played”. Making the sign of the cross was populary believed to protect and defer from many mythological creatures and it is no different in the case of the leshy. You can also escape by setting fire to the forest. The leshy will be so concerned with putting out the fire and saving the forest and its inhabitants, that it will forget about you. Saying a prayer of protection before entering the forest is also advised. Those who escape the leshy will often exit the woods, those encountering them possibly recognising they have been victim by their dazed manner and the moss that will likely be all over their clothes.
In the case of using the cross there is some contradiction in the lore of the leshy. To gain favour with the leshy, in order to make a pact, one method of doing so is to wear a cross around their neck and share the holy bread with the leshy after mass on Sundays. This suggests that the leshy is not actually afraid of the cross, but rather respects it or at least sees it as a sign of surrender in his games…basically a respected “I don’t want to play anymore”. It was believed to be a good idea for a farmer to earn the respect of the leshy in order to make a pact to obtain protection for their crops and livestock. The leshy also likes offerings of salt, bread or even sweet things like cookies places on a log for the leshy to find.
The leshy is said to have originally been a priest, who had been born with blue blood. Thee unusual appearance of his blue cheeks caused him to be ostracised, even among the priesthood, which lead him to run into the forest. This may be why sharing your holy communion bread with him after mass can earn his respect. Other sources say he is the child of a demon and a concubine. Others say he was born to a family of hermits living away from civilisation.