Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter L - LEWIS, C. S.

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

"You're not-not a-?" asked Susan in a
shaky voice. She couldn't bring herself to say
the word ghost. Aslan stopped his golden head
and licked her forehead. The warmth of his
breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to
hang about his hair came all over her.
"Do I look it?" he said.
"Oh, you're real, you're real! Oh, Aslan!"
cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves
upon him and covered him with kisses.
"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan
when they were somewhat calmer.
"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
From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so
many lions?" said Shasta.
"There was only one lion," said the Voice.
"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you
there were at least two the first night, and-"
"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."
"How do you know?"
"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with
open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued.
"I was the lion who forced you to join with
Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among
the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove
the jackals from you while you slept. I was the
lion who gave the Horses the new strength of
fear for the last mile so that you should reach
King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not
remember who pushed the boat in which you lay,
a child near death, so that it came to shore where
a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."
 "Who are you?" asked Shasta.
"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low
so that the earth shook: and again "Myself,"
loud and clear and gay: and then the third time
"Myself," whispered so softly you could hardly
hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round
you as if the leaves rustled with it.

From The Horse and His Boy

In both excerpts above, we can see a certain resonance between the lion Aslan and the figure of Jesus. In the first case, Aslan offers himself as a sacrifice to the Witch in order to save someone else. He then resurrects, explaining to the children that there is a "deeper magic" that can undo Death itself, a magic that is accomplished when an innocent and willing victim is killed in the place of a traitor. In the second excerpt, it is revealed to Shasta that Aslan is always with him, protecting and guiding him. The passage concludes with the Old Testament formulation that God is God, Himself.

Lewis would always insist, however, that Aslan does not "represent" Jesus. Rather, he substitutes for "representation" the notion of "supposition," meaning the use of the imagination, as he puts it in a letter to a child: "I did not say to myself, 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia': I said 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.' If you think about it, you will see that it is quite a different thing." At the same time, Lewis clearly thinks that the feelings produced by these stories are good preparation for coming to a deep understanding of the story of Jesus later in one's life. In another interesting letter to a mother who is concerned that her son loves Aslan more than Jesus, Lewis tries to reassure her that the thing the boy loves Aslan for doing and saying are simply the things that Jesus really did and said: "So that when Laurence [the son] thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before."

But is this merging of a fictional character with the historical and religious significance of Jesus as uncomplicated as Lewis likes to think? Such questions make Lewis particularly interesting to think about regarding the emotional and imaginative lives of children who are of a particular religious faith.