Sunday, June 30, 2024



Some sources use the word Leshy as a proper noun to describe a tutelary deity from Slavic mythology, but I use the term to refer to a class of nature spirits.

The main reference for lore regarding leshy in English seems to come from Songs of the Russian People by W.R.S Ralston. Leshy (spelled "Lyeshy" in the book) are said to belong to two classes—one associated with forests, and the other associated with fields. The later classification being similar to agricultural spirits like the polevik.

Ralston writes that leshy resemble medieval devils in their natural form, but the description of shaggy haired creatures with horns and goat feet bring satyrs to mind for me.

Léchies, Dictionnaire infernal, 1863

In early illustrations, they are often depicted as wizened old men or woodwoses.

Girl and Leshy, M.V. Yakunchikova, 1899

Leshiy, E.I. Kovrigin, 1853

Lěshiy (Fairy Tale Series),
E.G. Sokolov

However, more modern illustrations depict them as having a tree-like appearance, which I attribute to costumes used in performances of The Snow Maiden.

F. F. Fedorovsky, 1910 & V.M. Vasnetsov, 1885

The current pop culture appearance of the leshy is taken from the antlered, skull-faced monsters from The Witcher 3, known as leshen.

Unlike in the video game, their depiction in The Witcher TV series is a throwback to a tree-like appearance that is somewhat reminescent of Warhammer dryads.

My personal exposure to the leshy was from the manga Kutsuzure Sensen, which introduced a diminished WWII era leshy.

The appearance as a small plant-like creature might have been influenced by Final Fantasy XI, where the Sapling class of monsters includes the leshonki, which is the name used for leshy children.

Leshonki (レショーンチ)

Leshy were also featured in the game, starting with Final Fantasy IV, but they appear as female spirits like nymphs or dryads.

Leshy (レーシー)

Pathfinder leshy also have the look of small anthropomorphized plant creatures, and are essentially druidic familiars. I ordered the boxed set of miniatures that was released back in April because I like the concept of plant and vegetable monsters which harken back to similar creatures from Dragon Quest and Maplestory, or even the flowers from Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.

The miniatures in the first row are a Flytrap Leshy, Fungus Leshy, Gourd Leshy, and Lotus Leshy.

The second row include a Seaweed Leshy, Sunflower Leshy, Fruit Leshy, and Cactus Leshy.

Some previous releases include the Pathfinder Battles Fungus Leshy (Darklands Rising #3) and Leaf Leshy (City of Lost Omens #4). The last miniature from the D&D Icons of the Realms line is Amidor [the Dandelion] (Wild Beyond the Witchlight #27). I don't think it's stated anywhere that Amidor is a leshy, but he looks the part to me.

The 3rd party supplement The Botanical Bestiary, published by Inky Cap Press is full of similar plant creatures, wonderfully illustrated by Sita Duncan.

3D print files were also created for the leshy in the supplement, but I feel they are rather sterile compared to the actual artwork, and I am unsure how well they can be scaled down in size.

In any event, my leshy miniatures will be repurposed as vegepygmies, since for pedantic reasons, it irks me that vegepygmies are fungi.

By attributing the sapience of these plants to symbiosis with russet mold, everything falls into place, and allows the vegepygmy name to be reclaimed by actual plants (though on the other hand, several of the leshy are relatively tall, so probably can't be properly called pygmies anymore).

I will end with some actual vegepygmy miniatures that were not covered in my older post on the subject.

The miniatures include an Icons of the Realms Vegepygmy Chief (Tomb of Annihilation #14), a Vegepygmy from the Tomb of Annihilation boardgame, and a Pathfinder Miniatures Mold Runt (Jungle of Despair #2). I also included the DDM Thorn (Angelfire #25), and Baby Groot (Marvel Next Phase #014) who also fit the part of vegepygmies.

The Tomb of Annihilation miniatures, are small and weedy, perhaps being better suited for vegepygmy sprouts. The non-boardgame Vegepygmy is a lot harder to find than the Chief, but other options are now available from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures to fill out a warband of similar miniatures. Meanwhile, the Pathfinder vegepygmy is inexplicably adorned with dreadlocks, making me think they are often encountered with cannabis leshy.


Philotep said...

Extremely original! Always a pleasure to learn new stories, that's why I like your blog so much!

EY said...

Thanks for reading, Phil!

Umpapa said...

50 years ago when my Grandpa was telling me stories about "leszy" (thats how we called them in Poland) I imagined them as big, powerful beings, something between male driad, Tolkien ent and of Herne the Hunter from "Robin of Sherwood" 1984 serie. He definitely had some kind of flat wide Moose-like crown.

EY said...

Hi Umpapa,
I hadn't really investigated Polish stories of leshy, but The Witcher was written by a Pole, and CD Projekt RED that made the video game is a Polish game studio, so the antlered leshy certainly aligns with what you say. I also saw that there is a statue of an leshy in Bolków, Poland with antlers, but I'm not sure how old it is.