The ice between the worlds - February 10
Is this the way to Narnia?
Steve in a winter wonderland
A promise of summer
This biting cold winter in which we're stuck was highlighted for me in Helsinki, where amidst the snow on the edge of a frozen sea it wasn't hard to imagine we were in the grip of the Snow Queen's magic. This queen inspired the idea of the White Witch who holds Narnia in a similar spell in C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. While there's a Christmassy cosy magic, tea and cakes beside a log fire with the locals aspect to that world, there's also a strong sense of sinister controlling forces lurking in the shadows within the woods, enticing with false personas. A Turkish Delightfully sprinkled honey trap lures the boy Edmund into a false sense of security and a longing to be the White Witch's prince. My Narnia song all those years ago contrasted the fairy chimes of the sleigh ride with the underlying threat implied in the lyrics.
It's also in a bitterly cold clime, "the wild waste lands of the North", that another of C. S. Lewis' witch-queens is encountered. The Lady of the Green Kirtle, Queen of the Underworld in The Silver Chair lures her victims with her beauty and false words, and like the White Witch with Edmund, she tricks a prince with her spell and traps him in her world. This story in part influenced my recent song Emerald and Ash.
The environments these witch-queens inhabit and create are all hostile and cold, while scarily the queens themselves initially appear to be a welcome relief from it all. But then harsh winters do come to an end with the return of the lion - ancient symbol of summer, joy and strength. The ice melts, the stone statues come back to life and the dark shadows are exposed in the light of day...
Potent images like these from Lewis' extraordinary imagination help us to deal with problems when we're suffering hardship in our own lives. For me it's his fantastic imagery that makes him such an extraordinary writer. The world he creates is so close to ours that we can virtually taste it, but it's imbued with a magic that takes us to our own rich worlds of imagination, encouraging us to get back in touch with the instinctive inner strength that's within us all.
Wood between the worlds