Leto is the principle of causality. In taking control of Her life, first by leaving Hyperborea, the place of Her birth, then by orchestrating the events of Her eventual arrival upon Olympos as Zeus’ Consort, She causes the wheels of fate to turn, by Her will.
This is a Goddess who exercises power, who asserts Herself in ways that are perhaps more familiar and relatable to poor, or otherwise ostracized women, rather than the lofty and oftentimes unattainable glories of Hera, and the domain of marriage. Leto is another side of the nature of a woman’s power, the nature of force which exercises its will on the world through cunning.
Leto tell us, there is a cause to all things, all situations, and if we would not be taken along by the cause of another, we can be our own cause, and exercise our own will.
The fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus is much more complex than the face of motherly demure She is so often characterized by, in what writings we have on Her that survive. Which of course gives us very little information on how the peoples of the past truly viewed Her. In this, we must often rely on doxa, both shared and personal, and on our interactions with Her via dreams, and through symbolism.
When we view Leto, we often do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her comes directly through Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon. We see a Goddess of liminality– of twilight– flanked by wolves, which are fierce predators. This sheds some light into the obscure areas of Her personality. which we can see on the periphery.
Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out during the darkening days, She does so unveiled, revealed, even as Nyx unfolds Her cloak of stars in the darkness. And in Her awful glory, what does Leto reveal to those who meet Her gaze? It is a glimpse, a mere taste of the wilderness that we have left behind. And in this wilderness, few are more fierce than the Mother of Wolves.
This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted, the Goddess whose honor is defended by Artemis and Apollon, and the traits which spurred Them in these actions are but a few that They have inherited from Leto.
When we view Leto, yes, we see the Divine Mother, we see She who birthed the Holy Twins, but we see also a complete Goddess, a whole Goddess; Someone with a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children.
And in that, we may find common ground for the growth of our relationships with Her, as well as for our own, personal growth.
There is much yet to learn from Leto in regard to keeping our identities intact after becoming parents, and also in celebrating who we were beforehand. In our (American) culture, motherhood specifically is easily dismissed as a necessary but trivial pastime, yet is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon. This dichotomy is of great detriment to society, however, and it is Leto who can help us to reintegrate the disparate themes of motherhood/parenthood, and to find the balance of ourselves within the roles, as She shows us in Her own life, and lore.
Leto, who is often quiet, who is often veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other. She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wild– the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, and with plans of Her own devising, fled Her birthplace to stake a claim to the varied lands and peoples of ancient Hellas– and was well respected throughout.
Therefore, for the upcoming Feast of Leto (Perihelios 9/Jan. 15, 2019), let us show respect for our Goddess, through shared ritual and feasting. And may we be always reminded to look beyond the surface of things. There is depth in what is hidden, and there are lessons to be learned from what we first must decide to seek.