The Lion the Witch and the Pagan Undertone…

Filed Under (Paganism) by on 07-04-2006

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I recently picked up the most recent issue of newWitch Magazine and was pleased to see the piece written by Dagonet Dewr on the pagan influence that can be found in the C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe. People have always been quick to point out the strong Christian undertones in this book and even more so with the recent release of the film, however Dewr clearly argues that there is in fact just as much pagan teaching in the book as there is Christian dogma. Many Christian churches have been pushing the book and film on children, probably in hopes to bring them closer to the Christian faith. However they don’t realize that with the book as well as the film these children will find many other things common to pagans. Things such as magic, mythical creatures, and of course witches. Things that will make them ask questions that many Christian parents may or may not be ready to answer. A full transcript of the article from newWitch.com can be found below…

I have been watching with some veiled amusement an absolute tornado buzzing and whirring around on some of the Pagan e-lists I’m on. Seems that some evangelical Christian churches have been putting together trips for public school kids to see the movie adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ book The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. I suspect the organizers of this effort believe that exposure to Lion will help bring the poor, unchurched kids to Jesus. In response, some Pagans are hideously offended and are calling for efforts to try and stop kids from seeing the movie.

My response is a little different ­ I ask, “where do I send a check to help fund this noble effort?”

This whole brouhaha is, to me, a perfect example of the notorious Pagan inferiority complex run amuck. Here’s my question: If one didn’t know that the author was a fervent evangelical would you categorize Lion as a Christian story with Pagan overtones, or a Pagan story with Christian overtones?

It is true that the central plot device of Lion involves a sacrificial death, and the primary antagonist of the story is the White Witch. But although Lewis meant for the story to be an allegory for the Christian gospel, the motif of the sacrificial (and resurrected) god is far older than Christianity. Ask any worshipper of Baldur, Dionysos Dendritus, Tammuz, Osiris, or any one of a number of other gods; sacrifice is a an element of myths about the human virtue or condition, not a solely Christian one.

Is there Pagan content in Lion? You bet. A short list: Dryads. Fauns. Centaurs. Magick. A truly Pagan Father Christmas. Talking animals. A creator deity who is also an animal spirit. A villain who subverts the natural order of the seasons. Griffons. Unicorns. Healing that comes from a maiden figure (if Lucy isn’t the Maiden in disguise as a British pre-teen, I don’t know who is.) There’s a lot more Paganism in there than Christian dogma. We need to evaluate the real threats to our community and concentrate our efforts on campaigns that matter. C.S. Lewis was a good storyteller, and a passionate and orthodox (though not fundamentalist) Christian, but I wonder if the folks who want to make sure that every kid in the world sees Lion know what they are really doing. They are exposing kids to magic and just because it is supposed to be Christian magic doesn’t mean that it is any less magical. For every Pagan kid who is converted to Christianity by seeing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe there will surely be hundreds of Christian kids who will be exposed to magic, and perhaps, get to Paganism through wondering about dryads. I should know, I was one of them.
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