“In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits test the hearts of humans by showing up in various forms that disguise their divinity. They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes, or with muddy feet. They show up with skin dark as old wood, or in scales made of rose petal, as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman, as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can. The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms.”
― Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
This work caused some controversy on my site, including this comment:
"Leda was raped by Zeus in swan form, bad pic for that quote. "
I've never believed tht Leda was raped - despite my love for Yeats. Besides, his poem was originally a political reflection that metamorphed along the span of his writing it.
Zeus was deity made manifest in avian form, which underscores the quote perfectly. The argument of rape vs. seduction is subjective depending on your POV, history of mythology and personal bent.
More to the point: Our mythologies do not often lend themselves to entertaining the healthy and positive aspects of a woman's sexuality because traditionally it has never been historically acceptable. Women are rarely granted the power of taking charge of their sexuality to any good ends, and so most myths which deal in dealing with the topic either sweep it under the rug, determine it as rape, or use it as a tool to introduce an evil end. And such is the power of our sex and sexual autonomy, which does greatly interest me to the extent that it bleeds itself all over my art and life, for better or worse.
"The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms." As women, is it easier to accept Leda's desire to willingly copulate with God as an animal, or that she was forced to? Neither presents any necessarily comfortable outcome, unless we consider some higher manifestation of truth.
In my interpretation, Leda is willingly surrendered to Zeus in avian form, and soaring high in the ebon skies, unites in blissful matrimony with her beloved, the sliver of a waxing moon heralding her transformation.
However, how you choose to hang the piece (vertical or horizontal) will dramatically change the tone of that perspective.