By Manly P. Hall – Among many ancient peoples God was considered as being androgynous, and referred to as the Great Father-Mother. When the Creator was represented by an image, various subtle devices were employed to indicate its hermaphroditic nature. The Iswara of the Hindus is depicted with one side of his body male and the other female.
In Greek and Roman statuary frequent examples are found of a masculine divinity wearing female garments and vice versa, or a heavily-bearded god may have his hair arranged in a distinctly feminine coiffure. Again, the structure of the face of such deities as Bacchus and Dionysus often shows a sensitive, feminine countenance disguised by a beard or some article of masculine adornment.
In other cases the feminine counterpart of the deity is considered as a separate individuality. For this reason each of the gods was declared to have had his consort or feminine aspect of his own being. Thus Mithras, the Persian Light-Savior, is considered to be masculine, but a certain portion of himself divided from the rest becomes Mithra, a feminine and maternal potency. As previously noted, in India each god has his shakti, or feminine part.
SOURCE: Manly P. Hall / Lectures on Ancient Philosophy
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