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"The Leshy" by Ivan Bilibin, 1906.

The Leshy is a male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology who guards wild animals and forests, a "Wild man". He is humanoid in shape, is able to assume any likeness[1] and can change in size and height.[2][3] In some accounts, the Leshy is described as having a wife (leshachikha/leszachka/lesovikha) and children (leshonki/leszonky). Because of his propensity to lead travelers astray and abduct children, which he shares with Chyort, or "The Black One," the Leshy is believed by some to be evil. Others view him as more of a temperamental being like a fairy.[4]

Name forms and etymology[edit]

The Leshy is known by a variety of names and spellings including Lesiy, Leshii, Leszi, Lesovik, etc.

Main name forms:


  • He (Russian: он) also used for the devil, based on superstition prohibiting invocation of evil
  • He himself (Russian: он сам) like "he"[5]

Cultural depictions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ushakov,Dmitry. Материалы по народным верованиям великоруссов, Этнографическое обозрение. 1896 (Vol. 8), no. 2-3, pg. 158.
  2. ^ Maksimov, S. V. Нечистая сила. Неведомая сила // Собрание сочинений [The Unclean Force, The Unknown Force, Collected Works]. 1912, pp. 79-80.
  3. ^ Tokarev, Sergei Aleksandrovich. Религиозные верования восточнославянских народов XIX — начала XX века [The religious beliefs of the peoples of East 19th – early 20th centuries]. Izd-vo AN SSSR, Moscow and Leningrad, 1957, p. 80.
  4. ^ Ivanits, Linda J. Russian Folk Belief. Routledge, 1989, p. 68.
  5. ^ Ivanits, Linda J. Russian Folk Belief. Routledge, 1989, p. 63.