The Deep Magic of Narnia (Part 2 of 2)
The protagonists of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW) are the Pevensie children--Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy--who encounter this deep magic as soon as they exit a wardrobe and enter the fantastical world of Narnia, its boundary marked by a lamppost similar to any they might find on a street corner in London. What is the energy source of this lamppost? It is not coal, oil, kerosene, or electricity because none exist in Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas. Immediately, the children are thrust into a world that is both natural and un-natural, a world of ordinariness but magical, a world of light and darkness—a world that contains all the mysteries of our universe, a world held together by some unfathomable or never-ending Deep Magic.
This is the deep magic of sacrificial love that nurtures justice in a world where there is too much brokenness and evil.
The children soon learn that many of Narnia’s residents--animals and creatures--have been waiting many generations for the return of their lion king, Aslan, while they suffer in misery under the tyranny of the White Witch, who turns to stone any who disobey or displease her.
The arrival of the 4 children--2 sons of Adam and 2 daughters of Eve--is a prophetic sign of Aslan’s return. The Narnians, desperate for the fulfillment of the prophecy, try to protect the children but the White Witch captures Edmund who falls for the temptations of the witch and betrays his siblings. Aslan is killed by the White Witch at the Stone Table, only to be discovered later by the children Lucy and Susan.
LUCY: Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan.
SUSAN: But what does it all mean?
ASLAN: It means there is an even Deeper Magic than the witch knows. Before time began, there was another law written. It says that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery--
LUCY: Like you?
ASLAN: Like me - is killed in the place of a traitor--
SUSAN: Like Edmund?
ASLAN: Like Edmund. The table will crack, and Death itself will start working backward.
This is the deep magic of sacrificial love that nurtures justice in a world where there is too much brokenness and evil. Why should such love exist at all in a universe of empty planets and empty dark spaces? This question--and others like it--have preoccupied science and religion for thousands of years. It is the kind of question that brings out the best in us as human beings. It requires tremendous imagination and courage to try and answer this question because you don’t know where it will lead.
Why should such love exist at all in a universe of empty planets and empty dark spaces?
For Lewis, it led to the LWW and then to 6 more books in his beloved series The Chronicles of Narnia, which in turn led to opening inquisitive minds, hearts, and souls of millions of readers, listeners, and audiences to the possibilities for human flourishing.
GEORGE DUTCH is Associate Artistic Director and Dramaturge for 9th Hour Theatre Company
Listen to George discuss the story's themes on the Telling The Story podcast.