Who is Aslan?
I’d like to take some time out from the subject of my journey of self discovery at the Hundredth Monkey Camp to talk a little about something that came into my thoughts while I was meditating the other day.
I’m a big fan of CS Lewis and all his writing, including the Narnia books which I have known since early childhood. Of course these days everyone knows that Lewis was writing with a Christian message, but it is too much overlooked that in the early days he didn’t promote it as such in anything like the obvious way that Christians like to present it today. I think I had probably read most of the seven books before I heard anything about the embedded Christianity. And yet they still had a powerful and inspiring strength to them. Students of Lewis will know all about how he was extremely pagan in many ways and also found the roots of his belief in Plato, who lived and wrote centuries before the birth of Jesus, and a lot of this stuff is much more obvious in the Narnian stories than the Christianity.
I know for sure that a lot of people are even turned off from the whole Narnia thing because they find the Christian selling thing unattractive and pushy. I am sympathetic to this. Narnia was never preachy in the way that some try to make it.
What interests me is what one might call the archetypal roots of Narnia, what it connects with in the human psyche and why it has such numinous power. That power doesn’t arise because Lewis thought of some clever new invention but because he tapped into archetypal sources of energy from the universal mind which Carl Jung would have recognised as expressions of the Self, the core of existence.
And what is the core of Narnia? Aslan of course. The wild, joyous, fierce and fiery son of the Emperor over the Sea, creator of Narnia, who sang it into existence. As it is always said, ‘He is not a tame lion’.
So why is Aslan so powerful? Surely not just in the skill of Lewis’s writing, marvellous and expressive though it is.
The symbol of the Lion is one which existed long before Lewis came on the scene. Golden, fearless, loving, above all courageous. What is courage?
I was reminded of the appellation given to one of the mediaeval world’s most well known figures, Richard, Coeur de Lion, the Lion Heart. Certainly in a modern context his crusade against Islam is politically incorrect, but we need to look deeper to understand why he won such a title, why he inspired the mediaeval mind in this way. It was his leadership in battle, the utterly fearless way in which he stood at the front of his army and defied his opponents with total disregard for his own safety, his courage.
And here we find the key to the mystery of Aslan. Courage comes from the French root Coeur, meaning the heart. The Lion is the symbol of the heart also, golden and fiery like the sun, the heart of our solar system, giver of all life. Jesus too as the risen Christ is associated with, and seen as, the Sun, the most joyous and admirable of all archetypal images. Jesus and Aslan are givers of love, but it is the manner in which this love is displayed that gives us the understanding of how this works. Love is the expression of courage, it is fearless. As the saying goes, ‘Perfect love casteth out all fear’.
The ancient function of a king was not to dominate his own people, but to defend them against threat. To be prepared to die in defending them. The self sacrificing heroic god king of ancient myth is the same archetype as the Christ, as Aslan. The superficial understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus is that he takes on the sins of the world in order to grant us forgiveness, but the deeper and greater meaning is that he shows the way. He shows us how to deal with those difficulties which we all must face in this material world of conflict. What are leaders? A leader is someone who is at the front, who finds the pathway, where the leader goes others follow. The leader is the example, at the cutting edge, the forerunner. He said that we must become like Him. We shouldn’t follow Jesus because he can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but follow his way, his example.
Something I find of profound importance to the understanding of the world of Narnia and Aslan is that there is no priesthood. Aslan doesn’t need someone to mediate between him and us. He is the Heart, he is our Heart. There is no separation. All we have to do is shed our dead skins of ego defence like Eustace in the Voyage of The Dawn Treader to free our vulnerable but true inner selves, surrender to the expression of the inner being, from the core. And it is no coincidence that the word core comes from the same root as Coeur, our heart is the core of our being, both physically and spiritually, the heart is the giver of life, sustaining the body with its flow of lifeblood.
And this is congruent with the deepest understanding of quantum physics. In the old Newtonian world objects are separate, but in the Quantum world everything is a part of everything else. The universe is a quantum matrix of undifferentiated vibrational energy, which only takes form when observed, when the ego takes a relational standpoint to the sea in which it is afloat. As Leibniz observed, the universe is made up of infinite monads of consciousness reflecting each other in their relational perspectives.
So, who is Aslan? Aslan is our inner being, Aslan is the soul of existence which gives itself tirelessly, as the ceaselessly breaking wave of existence, fearless in its self sacrifice to perpetually recreate all things anew, eternally. Aslan is within us all, forever ready to accept and reintegrate the fearfully self separated ego which will only die and wither as a leaf which is cut off from the branch if it tries to exist in isolation, or fix itself in unchanging form. Aslan is existence, truth, unbounded joy, adventure and endless forgiveness as we let go of the past in the crashing storm of quantum chaos and infinite creation.
He is not a tame lion. He is your heart!
copyright © 2011 Claire Rae Randall
copyright © 2011 Claire Rae Randall