Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Anti-Wicca in Narnia?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Why Does A Propane Flame Burn Blue? | Blue Flame

I've sometimes wondered if the eponymous White Witch of C. S. Lewis' 1950 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—whom Lewis describes as “white as paper”—was inspired by Robert Graves' The White Goddess.

TWG having been published in 1948, this remains chronologically possible, though (admittedly) tight. Whether or not Lewis was familiar with Graves' magnum opus I do not know, though as a study in mythology, it does seem right up Lewis' alley. Although the White Witch is never (to my memory, anyway) spoken of in explicitly lunar terms, the implied contrast with the lion Aslan, the solar Narnian Christ, permeates the book.

The White Witch also appears—offstage—in the 1951 Prince Caspian. Waiting for assistance from an Aslan who never seems to show up, a hag and a werewolf propose that the Narnians invoke the power of the White Witch for aid.

When the king's adviser observes that, as all the stories agree, the Witch is dead, the hag counters, “Oh, bless his heart, his dear little Majesty needn't mind about the White Lady—that's what we call her—being dead....who ever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back.”

Call her up,” says the werewolf. “We are all ready. Draw the circle. Prepare the blue fire.”

Invoking the White Lady in a drawn circle? Do we see here shades of anti-Wiccan polemic? Although Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today was not published until 1954, accounts of Wicca had begun appearing in the popular British press early in the 1950s, and—given his interests—it seems at least possible, if not likely, that Lewis will have been aware of them.

Was arch-Christian C. S. Lewis polemicizing against a resurgent White Goddess and her latter-day witch-cult in his Narnia series? Well, it shouldn't be difficult to find out, one way or the other.

Just give me a second to get this blue fire started.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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