“The longing for redemption is an ancient, strange and many-headed daimon, which dwells within even the most earthbound and prosaic of souls. Sometimes eloquent and sometimes mute, this daimon aspires toward some dimly sensed union with an all-seeing, all-loving, ineffable Other, in whose encircling embrace may be found ultimate solace for the harsh limits of mortality and the frightening isolation of individuality which lie embedded somewhere, albeit unconscious, in every life. Even if we do not call the Other by any divine name, but instead direct our devotion and our yearning toward unrecognized surrogates such as humanity en masse, family, nature, art, love, or admiration for a particular person or thing. The hallmarks of the longing for redemption are, first, that it is a longing; that it is compulsive and absolute, and often collides violently with individual values; and third, that its goal is not relationship, but rather, dissolution.
Jung speculated on the possibility that the longing for redemption is innate – an archetypal predisposition as primordial and irresistible as the urge to procreate. The main revelation of “Symbols of Transformation,” … is that it is … the unconscious psyche itself, which seeks to transform its own compulsive and doomed instinctuality through the mediating influence of the symbols which it creates. Not society or superego, but soul, in Jung’s view, is ultimately responsible for the transformation of raw libido into the work of devotional art, the noble humanitarian ideal, the awesome dignity of the sacred rite, the profound and cruelly beautiful initiatory work of turning human lead into human gold. In other words, what we call God is really Nature, the chthonic nature described by Freud’s id, seeking freedom from its own death-shadowed inertia through a gradual evolution not only of form, as Darwin would have it, but of expression and of consciousness. And the instrument of this transformation is that eternally elusive faculty which we call the imagination.
What then is this poignant yearning which justifies any sacrifice, this eternal cry from the wasteland of incarnation? Is it truly the clear voice of the soul making itself heard through the prison walls of earthy substance? Or is it the desperate defence-mechanism of the fragile personality, bruised and rendered stubbornly infantile by incompetent parenting and its own regressiveness, and unwilling or unable to make the difficult foray into the jungle of everyday life and death?
Astrology has a planetary symbol to describe all human urges, and the longing for redemption is as human as the rest. In astrological language, it is called Neptune, named after the Roman god of the watery depths. … The longing for redemption is the longing for dissolution in the waters of pre-birth – maternal, cosmic, or both. … Neptune should have been named after a sea goddess, not a sea god. The source of life with which we seek to merge brandishes a masculine name, but wears a feminine face.”
Liz Greene, The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, pp. xi-xiv
“Clear-cut distinctions and strict formulations are quite impossible in this field, seeing that a kind of fluid interpenetration belongs to the nature of all archetypes. They can only be roughly circumscribed at best. Their living meaning comes out more from their presentation as a whole than from single formulation. Every attempt to focus them more sharply is immediately punished by the intangible core of meaning losing its luminosity. No archetype can be reduced to a simple formula. It is a vessel which we can never empty, and never fill. It has a potential existence only, and when it takes shape in matter it is no longer what it was. It persists throughout the ages and requires interpreting ever anew. The archetypes are the imperishable elements of the unconscious, but they change their shape continually.
It is a well-nigh hopeless undertaking to tear a single archetype out of the living tissue of the psyche; but despite their interwovenness they do form units of meaning that can be apprehended intuitively.”
Carl Gustav Jung, Collected Works 9i, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, pars 301-302)