THE PETALUMA CITY SEAL
WHO IS THE DEITY
ON THE PETALUMA CITY SEAL?
HOW DID I COME UP WITH THIS CONCLUSION?
OF WHAT INTEREST
IS THIS TO ME?
The artist has derived inspiration from Greco- Roman mythology. Just like the warrior Athena/Minerva on the seal of California, here we have the goddess Demeter -Ceres. This is the divinity associated with Fertility and Liminality. Both Roman and Greek traditions reveal her connection with fields, countryside, crops particularly grain, food especially bread and animals such as the cow, sheep and the pig. During important stages in farming and animal husbandry she was invoked and appeased. Sacramental stages in life such as birth, initiation, marriage, divorce, death saw many an offering made to her. She was also approached for expiation during natural calamities and oddities. The ancient Eleusinian mysteries of Life and Death center around this goddess. Of all the pictures I researched, the ones to do with the Augustan period ( 27 B.C. -AD 14 ) reflected closest to the one on the Petaluma Seal. Ceres-Demeter sculptures often rose from the earth, or sat on a rock. The sickle was one of the many tools held. Other accompanying symbols were cornucopia, thresher, bundle of wheat sheaves, and a corona spicea (wreath around the head, made of wheat or corn). The Ara Pacis Figure includes a cow as one of the animals with her. A ship's stern symbolizing grain importation by water is there in some sculptures.
It is very interesting to note how so many city and state seals in the US have resorted to Greek and Roman indigenous deities and concepts. So I researched on the goddesses in Greco-Roman mythology and on some seals of selected US cities and states. Last but not least was information from the book, The Roman Goddess Ceres by the late Barbette Stanley Spaeth. Did some side work on microfilms of Sonoma newspapers of that time. Lucy Kortum of the Petaluma Library History Section, Katherine Rhineheart of the Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa , John Benanti of the Petaluma Museum Archival Section and Claire Cooper, City Hall Clerk were all of great assistance in providing guidance and materials.
Being very much an interfaith person with a foundation in Sanatana Dharma of India, I am drawn to the manifold ways in which human beings have tried to connect to the presence of the Divine from times immemorial. I have received training from a long lineage of orthodox vedic ritualists from Kerala, India, who specialize in awakening dormant energies and are experts on the deities, what they represent and the technology of bonding with them for personal spiritual growth. My choice of retiring in Petaluma after having lived in the US for over 46 years, covering the states of Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey and Southern California, was based on related revelations. So this has a very personal hold for me!
So I close with this prayer quotation that expresses my personal wish for the City of Petaluma, a city I have come to love.
" Hail goddess and save this city in harmony, and in prosperity and bring all crops in abundance in the fields. Nourish the cattle, bring the flocks, bring the wheat stalk, bring the harvest! And nourish peace so that he who has sown may reap. Be gracious to me, thrice prayed for, wide ruling queen of goddesses."
Details of the work done in this connection have been submitted to the Petaluma Library History Section and the Petaluma Museum in 2009.