Study Guide

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Spirituality

By C.S. Lewis

Spirituality

Chapter 7

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something to you which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. (7.35)

The power of Aslan's name immediately stirs intense and almost indescribable spiritual feelings for the children.

Chapter 8
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

"Down at Cair Paravel – that's the castle on the sea coast down at the mouth of this river which ought to be the capital of the whole country if all was as it should be – down at Cair Paravel there are four thrones and it's a saying in Narnia time out of mind that when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve sit in those four thrones, then it will be the end not only of the White Witch's reign but of her life. (8.41)

The arrival of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in Narnia is not a mere accident or a convenient occurrence. Instead, it is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, with deep spiritual overtones for good Narnians like the Beavers.

"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion." (8.22)

Narnian mythology suggests that the great Lion Aslan has a strange and powerful father, the "Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea," who remains mysterious but sounds totally awesome.

Chapter 13
Susan Pevensie

"Oh, Aslan!" whispered Susan in the Lion's ear, "can't we – I mean, you won't, will you? Can't we do something about the Deep Magic? Isn't there something you can work against it?"

"Work against the Emperor's magic?" said Aslan turning to her with something like a frown on his face. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again. (13.48-49)

Susan still doesn't get it – the real point is not just to win and free Edmund and go home, but to do what's right. Aslan will do anything possible to help Edmund, except for undermining the spiritual foundation of the world. That would be too much to ask. Sorry, Susan.

The White Witch

"Tell you?" said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. "Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the trunk of the World Ash Tree? Tell you what is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill." (13.41)

Narnia isn't all beautiful landscapes and feel-good romps with Aslan. There are painful requirements in the spiritual laws of this world, and the country itself could be destroyed if Aslan didn't abide by those rules.

Chapter 14
Lucy Pevensie

"Oh how can they?" said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. "The brutes, the brutes!" for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever. (14.48)

Aslan's greatest beauty and power comes through in his moments of suffering and trial. His spirit transcends the humiliations he suffers.

Chapter 15

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you've been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead calm, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. (15.8)

It's important that Aslan (like Jesus) doesn't get resurrected right away. Instead, there is a long period of sorrow and mourning. It may seem cruel to Lucy and Susan to make them think Aslan has died and then, hey presto, whip him back into life. But there is a spiritual value in sorrow that purifies them both and honors Aslan's sacrifice.

It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind. And the funny thing was that when all three finally lay together panting in the sun the girls no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty. (15.40)

Aslan isn't some joyless, stern ruler – he's playful and loving, too. Narnian spirituality involves enjoying yourself and frolicking in the woods.

Aslan

"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." (15.38)

OK, we admit that this sounds like a great big "Ah-HA, gotcha!" to the Witch. Aslan knew a loophole that nobody else did, and it fixed everything! But the spiritual point is that one great sacrifice can atone for someone else's treachery. One victim can stand in for another, and, by doing so, he can free the whole world.

Chapter 17
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

But amidst all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn't there they said nothing about it. For Mr. Beaver had warned them, "He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down – and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." (17.23)

Aslan's ways are not the ways of men (or Narnian creatures), and there will always be something inexplicable and mysterious about him. He can't be tied down to a regular schedule and he won't ever do things in quite the way you expected.

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