Leto/Latona

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Yex
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Leto/Latona

Post by Yex »

Ok, so... I recently (a couple months ago) moved into a new house; this house is probably going to be a pretty permanent location for my family and me, as it was purchased rather than rented. :D So far I've done some preliminary space clearing and such, and am beginning to make friends with the local spirits, particularly the fae, but, to get to the point, the street that my street is off of is called Latona. The internet tells me that this is the Romanized name for the Greek goddess Leto. I'd like to do at least some sort of ritual honoring her, but as she's a more obscure goddess, there's not a lot of information I've been able to find about worship of her. Here's what I've gleaned, mostly from her wikipedia page:

*She's the mother of Artemis and Apollo (the Letoides)
*She appears to be a mother goddess in general, and seems associated with the feminine
*The last point is reinforced by her seeming to have a stronger connection to Artemis than Apollo; she labored for 9 months when giving birth to Apollo, but before that, when she gave birth to Artemis, there was ease, "as if she were merely revealing another manifestation of herself".
*Also more goddesses were present for Artemis' birth, which again perhaps suggests her strongly being associated with the sacred feminine
*The father of the children is Zeus, and jealous Hera forbid Leto from giving birth anywhere on the earth; Leto got around this by giving birth on Delos, an island that didn't touch the ocean's floor
*Delos was surrounded by swans
*She had cults in Lycia, where she was the main mother goddess, and in Crete, where she was blended with the Minoan goddess
*The greeks believed she was one and the same as "Wadjet, the cobra-headed goddess of Lower Egypt"
*She's sometimes associated with a golden spindle
*She's attacked by several Chthonic monsters in her wanderings (I can't tell if this is while she's pregnant or after she gives birth)

I should also note that I have no previous relationship with either Artemis or Apollo, or Wadjet, and have never worshiped them in any way. I was in Crete last year for my honeymoon, though, and at the archeology museum there, I found myself very drawn to the Minoan snake-goddess. I also am generally drawn to Greek pagan religion, although I've mostly just worked with Aphrodite

Any Hellenists out there who could help me out? Or just people who are skilled in ritual-craft who could throw me some tips? Also, should I try and contact her directly for advice, and if so, how?



Here's a picture of a statue of her with the infant Letoides

And the Minoan snake-goddess

EDIT: Right after I posted this, I got a response on this matter from someone on a Hellenist facebook page that I follow. Here's what he posted:
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 5. 4 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Note the Delian tradition that the trees which flourish on Delos are the olive and the palm. When Leto took hold of them she immediately gave birth, which she had not been able to do before."

Aelian, On Animals 4. 29 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.) :
"I learn that the Cock is the favourite bird of Leto. The reason is, they say, that he was at her side when she was so happily brought to bed of twins. That is why to this very day a Cock is at hand when women are in travail, and is believed somehow to promote an easy delivery."

Aelian, On Animals 10. 47 :
"The Ichneumon (mongoose) is both male and female in the same individual, partaking of both sexes, and nature has enabled each single same animal both to procreate and to give birth . . . Ichneumons are said to be sacred to Leto and the Eileithyiai (Goddesses of Birth), and the people of Heraklepolis (Heracleopolis) worship them, so they say."
He also points out something I missed on wikipedia that says that her symbols are "Veil, dates, palm tree, rooster, wolf, gryphon, weasel".

Honestly, at this point I probably have enough to go on to design a ritual, but I'm still happy to get any input whatsoever, or, better yet, experiences anyone might have with this goddess.
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by SnowCat »

I feel like more people are starting to be drawn to the less well known figures. I think it's a matter of balance, maybe a bit like the regular kids balancing out the popular crowd in high school, if that makes any sense. I haven't had my coffee yet.

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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by Xiao Rong »

Yex, a couple of things I know about Leto, in addition to that great list above --

1. When Leto gave birth to Artemis, Artemis immediately became Leto's midwife and helped bring her brother, Apollo, into the world. This is why Artemis, though a virgin goddess, is still associated with help during pregnancy and childbirth.

2. Niobe, Queen of Thebes, boasted she was a great mother, since she bore 14 children. In her hubris, she claimed to be an even greater mother than even Leto, who had but 2 children. Leto, in anger, asked Apollo and Artemis to take revenge upon Niobe for her pride, and they obliged her, slaying all of Niobe's children with their arrows. Niobe, in her grief, is turned to stone.
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by Siona »

http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanisLeto.html Will have some additional info on Leto.

The Orphic hymns recommend burning myrrh in offering of Leto. There are a few translaitons of the hymn, but one is:
Dark-veiled Leto, revered goddess,
Mother of Twins,
great-souled daughter of Koios,
queen to whom many pray,
to your lot feel the birth pains for Zeus' fair children,
you bore Phoibos (Apollon),
and arrow-pouring Artemis,
her on Ortygia, him on rocky Delos.
Hear, lady goddess,
Come with favor in your heart
to bring a sweet end to this all-holy rite.

If you want to do a ritual to her, a simple one would be to wash your hands and mouth to purify, light a candle or olive oil lamp for her, recite her hymn, and burn some myrrh and give a libation of cold water in offering.
I sing of you, blessed, night-winged Dream, Messenger of things to come, greatest prophet to mortals, in the quiet of sweet sleep you come silently and speak to the soul.

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Yex
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by Yex »

Thanks Siona, that's really helpful.

To go a little bit off topic for a moment: I've been wanting to get a copy of the Orphic Hymns. Are any of the translations better than others?
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by Siona »

Yex wrote:To go a little bit off topic for a moment: I've been wanting to get a copy of the Orphic Hymns. Are any of the translations better than others?
There are two translations that most will refer to. One is Thomas Taylor's translation, from way back in 1792. Since these are so old, they can be found free online in many places, or sometimes as free ebooks. He chose to translate into rhyming verse, so while they're still fairly accurate, there are some places where it seems that the style of the hymn took precedence over the translation, if that makes sense. Also, since being older, sometimes the English seems outdated in places. Here's his version of Leto's hymn:
Dark veil'd Latona [Leto], much invoked queen, twin-bearing Goddess, of a noble mien;
Cæantis [Koiantis] great, a mighty mind is thine, offspring prolific, blest of Jove [Zeus] divine:
Phœbus proceeds from thee, the God of light, and Dian [Artemis] fair, whom winged darts delight;
She in Ortygia's honor'd regions born, in Delos he, which mountains high adorn.
Hear me, O Goddess, with propitious mind, and end these holy rites, with aspect kind.


The other translation usually refereed to was done by Apostolos N. Athanassakis in 1977, and newer versions of the book also credit Benjamin M. Wolkow. Apparently older versions used to have the Greek text, but the newer copies don't... but they still come with a very detailed notes section. The first version of Leto's hymn I posted comes from that translation. It is a lot more accurate to the original text, but it doesn't have quite the same poetic quality in some cases. Although, personally, I do prefer the Athanassakis translation not just for the accuracy, but I think they sound better as well, but that's a personal choice. A lot of Hellenics who use the hymns in ritual will keep both translations around.
I sing of you, blessed, night-winged Dream, Messenger of things to come, greatest prophet to mortals, in the quiet of sweet sleep you come silently and speak to the soul.

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Yex
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by Yex »

Thank you, that was very informative. Much obliged! :)
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by firebirdflys »

Could this possibly be a native word from your area? The Duwamish, is that nearby? I could be grasping at straws, but that's what struck me initially.
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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by seidkonacat »

I've actually done a few rituals to Leto, because She is the mother of one of my earliest patron godesses Artemis. But I'm honestly blown away by the amount of research you've accumulated. My own designed rituals seem kind of simplistic in comparison; I'm ashamed to say I haven't thought much about the deeper mythology of Leto. The only thing I can say that may be of any help is that I've always had the sesne, from Artemis, of a stong connection with her mother.

You've really opened my mind to new Goddess, and I wish you all the luck in the world in your endeavors. <3

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Re: Leto/Latona

Post by particular »

Very interested in this thread, any new thoughts, happenings, or comments?

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