Russian Spirits

Domestic Spirits

They are protectors of the house and the farmstead. The most malevolent spirits are the ones that live farthest away.

The Nature Spirits

Manifestations of the unclean force, harmful to peasants.


A well-wishing spirit of the house who helped with domestic chores. Domovoi played tricks on people only when the owners were lazy or negligent, and lived in harmony with things from the church. Appearance: An old peasant with a long gray beard; also appeared as a cat or a dog. Tricks: Stole neighbor's oats; if unhappy, was known to mess up the yard, tangle needlework, spread manure on the door, or, in extreme cases of anger, suffocate the victim.

domikha, domovikha, domovichka

The wife of the domovoi

kikimora, shishimora

A female spirit that, in some regions, was believed to be the wife of the domovoi.


A spirit that lived in the yard, had the same appearance as domovoi, but was more evil-natured.


A dangerous spirit known both to protect peasants and to kill them by suffocating them or peeling their skin.

bannaia, bannikha

The wife of the bannik.


The most evil and dangerous of the domestic spirit, lived in the threshing barn. Also called gumennik and ryzhnyi khoziain.


The master of the forest and wild animals. Outside of the forest, leshii was interchangeable with the devil. Appearance: A peasant without a belt, who could vary his size and who frequently had features of the devil. The leshii could be transformed into a familiar person, a beast, a domestic animal, or a mushroom. Tricks: Could lead a peasant astray, make him sick, or tickle him to death. Was known to hide woodcutters' axes. Carried off young girls and women.


The leshii's wife.

vodianoi, vodianoi chërt

An evil and dangerous water spirit who drowned people. Appearance: A naked old man, or half-fish, half-human, covered with mire, slime, or scales, sometimes with a long beard and green hair. Features of the devil. Could be transformed into a fish.


The wife of the vodianoi.


A drowned maiden or the soul of an unbaptized child, who was connected with the unclean force. Was known to steal children and entice, tickle to death, or drown passersby. Could be the vodianoi's wife or consort. Appearance: Often appeared as a woman with long hair, but the external representation was inconsistent.


The river bank female spirit.


The spirit of the field, who had qualities of both domovoi and leshii.


A female spirit of the fields.


The spirit of the meadows.


The spirit of the swamps.

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