At around 121K words, I finally wrote “THE END”. The first draft of the fourth book of the Shadow Enforcer series is done. The self-editing is over, and the manuscript is in my editor’s capable hands.
Writing this book was quite a journey. Every book I write starts with a huge amount of research. This book wasn’t an exception. Looking back at my research files, I have over forty pages of notes, diagrams, and images, and that doesn’t include links to different websites, downloaded PDF files and eBooks. Whoever said it’ll be easy to incorporate Slavic mythology in an Urban Fantasy novel didn’t see the hierarchy of the Slavic pantheon.
Anyway, the 1st draft is done, and I can’t wait to share this story with you.
Speaking of Slavic lore, let’s talk about the gods and monsters of the Fire Salamander World.
…and the monster of this month is Leshy.
So, who is Leshy in Slavic mythology?
One of the most popular Slavic mythological character, he is the spirit of the forest. There are quite a few opinions on the origin of the Leshy, and it's hard to say whether he is good or evil, which is not uncommon for Slavic lore and fairy tales. In the case of Leshy, that would depend on his mood. In some stories, he is a helpful spirit who guides those who are lost in the forest. In other stories, he tricks travelers into following him deeper into the woods, leading them toward deadly swamps.
As the spirit of the forest, Leshy will do anything to protect his domain. So, his attitude toward people quite often is based on how people treat the forest and its inhabitants.
How does Leshy look?
Just like everything in Slavic lore, different sources describe him differently. Some say he’s a giant who can easily step over a river, while others depict him as a little green man. So, it would be safe to assume that Leshy can change his size and appearance at will.
Nevertheless, most of the legends and fairy tales agree that Leshy looks and dresses like a man with some small deviations in his costume. His clothes can be covered in moss, his beard is green or blue, and he doesn’t cast a shadow. Also, some say he has blue blood and doesn’t have the right ear, eyebrow and eyelashes on his right eye. But my favorite is—he buttons his clothes on the left side.
The Leshy, however, doesn’t always appear in a human form. He can show himself as a bear, wolf or an owl, as well as assume the form of domesticated animals, like black cats, for example.
As Leshy walks across his domain, powerful winds surround him, preceding his approach and following in his wake. For a forest creature, he’s quite noisy, his presence announced by whistling, laugher, clapping, howling, and crackling noises. So, even if you didn’t notice a giant man with a green beard, you won’t miss the cacophony of sounds that surround him.
Leshy’s little helpers
Some of you have probably heard of Leshy before. But did you know, he has his own little helpers? Or as Slavic lore lovingly calls them—small leshachki—Turosik and Stukach.
Turosik loves to take the form of a deer with golden antlers. Malevolent and sneaky, he leads hunters into the thick of the woods toward the deadliest swamps.
Stukach can impersonate a woodcutter, perfectly imitating the sound of an ax. People who are lost in a forest can wander for hours, following the sound of the ax’s chops.
Going to a forest? Know what not to do to avoid Leshy’s wrath.
Every accident where people got lost in the forest was always blamed on the Leshy. So, if you’re planning to visit your local woods, you need to know how not to trigger the dark side of the forest’s protector.
1. Before taking a hike along the shadowy path in the deep woods, pray to the forest’s owner and defender and ask his permission to enter.
2. According to Slavic lore, it’s strictly forbidden to scold children or argue with anyone while traveling across a forest. Unless you don’t mind a quick get-together with Leshy, that is.
3. Don’t mention Leshy at all. Don’t talk about him, don’t even say his name. The spirit of the forest won’t hesitate to appear before anyone who called him, and I don’t think you’ll enjoy the meeting.
4. Do not scream in a forest. Don’t answer the echo.
5. And my all-time favorite… If you didn’t follow the directions above, and Leshy maneuvered you into the deep thickets of a forest, to find the path back, you need to take your clothes off and put them on inside out or switch your boots from left leg to the right and vice versa.
How to protect yourself from Leshy?
There are quite a few oberegas (amulets) against Leshy. You can use salt or draw a circle, using the branch of a linden tree cleared of bark. Fire is also quite effective against Leshy. In addition, Leshy doesn’t like dogs and tricolor cats. And last but not least, Leshy is afraid of firearms, especially if you use copper bullets.