Musing on Leto before Mother’s Day (part one)

Dark-veiled Leto, much invoked queen, twin-bearing Goddess, of noble mien;

Koiantis (Daughter of Koios) great, a mighty mind is thine, offspring prolific, blest, of Zeus divine :

 Phoebus proceeds from thee, the God of light, and Artemis fair, whom winged darts delight;

she in Ortygia’s honored regions born, in Delos he, which lofty mounts adorn.

Hear me, O queen, and favorably attend, and to this consecration divine afford a pleasing end.”

May is starting soon and with it comes Mother’s Day in the United States. It seems appropriate at this time to honor the Titan Goddess of motherhood and, along with her twin children Apollo and Artemis, protector of young children. She is also a gentle goddess who is almost always shown with her children. It seems appropriate to me that on Mother’s Day we celebrate what I am calling the Letonea Festival honoring not only her, but all mothers.

In Lycia, Leto, Apollo and Artemis were worshiped as the patron deities and by far the most important religious sanctuary in Lycia was that of Leto, called Letoon, in the Xanthos valley. It was the sacred cultic center of Lycia, and here, She and her twin children Apollo and Artemis were greatly honoured. Letoon is undoubtedly of great antiquity and may go back to the 7th century B.C. Three temples stand here dedicated to Leto and her two children – the national deities of Lycia, as well as a nympahaeum, and a theatre. As the national sanctuary of Lycia, national festivals were held here and the sanctuary’s priests were the highest priests of the Lycian Union. Other Lycian shrines to Leto exist in Calinda and Psychus (northwest Lycia).Leto – Λητώ – Latona

I plan on a ceremony with libations to Leto and the Divine Twins. Ideally, we should also honor our living mothers in a way that transforms this secular festival into a religious one in the model of the ancients.

Gentle Leto, model of motherhood

Inspire me this and all days

With your gentle strength, your poise and your wit

When I hear the cock crow and my child’s call

I will honor you with this

And another song also.

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