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Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.12)

Now, all these myth-pictures represent a drama of the human psyche on the further side of consciousness, showing “man as both the one to be redeemed and the redeemer.”

The first formulation is Christian, the second alchemical.

In the first case man attributes the need of redemption to himself and leaves the work of redemption, the actual “opus,” to the autonomous divine figure; in the latter case man takes upon himself the duty of carrying out the redeeming “opus,” and attributes the state of suffering and consequent need of redemption to the “anima mundi” imprisoned in matter.

In both cases redemption is a “work.”

In Christianity it is the life and death of the God-man which by a unique sacrifice, bring about the reconciliation of man, who craves redemption and is sunk in materiality, with God.

The mystical effect of the God-man’s self-sacrifice extends broadly speaking, to all men, though it is efficacious only for those who submit through faith or are chosen by divine grace’ but in the Pauline acceptance it acts as an apocatasis and extends also to non-human creation in general, which, in tis imperfect state, awaits redemption like the merely natural man.

By a certain “synchronicity” of events, man, the bearer of soul submerged in the world and the flesh, is potentially related to God at the moment when he, as Mary’s Son, enters into her, the “virgo terrae” and representative of matter in its highest form; and, potentially at least, man is fully redeemed at the moment when the eternal Son of God returns again to the Father after undergoing the sacrificial death.

The ideology of this “Mysterium” is anticipated in the myths of Osiris, Orpheus, Dionysus, and Hercules, and in the conception of the Messiah among the Hebrew prophets.

These anticipations go back to the primitive hero myths where the conquest of death is already and important factor.

The projections upon Attis and Mithras, more or less contemporary with the Christian one, are also worth mentioning.

The Christian projection differs from all these manifestations of the mystery of redemption and transformation by reason of the historical and personal figure of Jesus.

The mythical event incarnates itself in him and so enters the realm of world history as a unique historical and mystical phenomenon. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Pages 306-308, Paragraphs 414-416.

Image: The “Mil of the Host.” The Word, in the form of scrolls, is poured into a mill by the “four evangelists, to reappear as the Infant Christ in the chalice. (Cf. John 1:14: “And the word was mad flesh…”) –High altar of the church at Tribsees, Pomerania (15th cent.) [Psychology and Alchemy, Page 307, Figure 158.]