leshy – a Slavic shapeshifter
The leshy is a shapeshifting creature that lives in the forest and is not likely to be found far from its protective trees. He is considered a protector of forest creatures, and is often described as a forest demon, forest being, or forest spirit. When the leshy appears in human form, it is typically as a tall man with pale bluish skin, green eyes, horns, and a green beard. He is often described as carrying a club, wearing a red scarf, having no shadow, and having an odd sense of style – he sometimes wears his left shoe on his right foot. He possesses the ability to shapeshift and tends to transform into things you would find in a forest – most notably it is described that he can transform into various sizes and shapes – anything from a blade of grass to a huge tree. The creature’s origins are said to be from a human woman who had an affair with a demon.
Slavic mythology says the leshy is considered a mischievous (but not evil) creature and tends to play tricks, jokes, and confuse humans who venture into his forest, loving most especially to lead them in circles. He has been known to make deals with local farmers who approach him and ask for his protection. If you do not have a pact with a leshy, and run across one, it is said you can protect yoruself by reversing your shoes (putting your left on your right and vice versa…just like the leshy wears), you can put your clothes on inside out and backwards, or most interestingly you can make the sign of the cross!
Another very interesting thing about the leshy is that he is considered a very close friend of the gray wolf, and is often seen in its company!
Relatives of the leshy are the wives known as leshachikha, and the children, known as leshonky.