In this chapter, I explore the idea that the roots of religious experience lie in the preverbal core of the self. I shall argue that religion offers recognition, and a promise of containment, to elements of the self that have been excluded from the developmental process; and that where it exists, the religious quest is ®red by a need for containment, and longing for a containing object. Finally, I shall attempt to show that the religious process so de®ned is part of an axis of love (agape, tenderness) in the human personality, distinct from the libidinal axis (eros) described by Freud. In making these assertions, I do not wish to circumscribe the ®eld of religion but to draw attention to a neglected area of psychoanalytic theorizing.