Summary: Deep Magic From the Dawn of Time

The wolf that Aslan spotted running through the trees dashes back to the Witch and tells her that Maugrim is dead and Aslan is in Narnia. The Witch remains calm and orders the wolf to gather all those Narnians who are on her side and prepare them for battle. As the wolf leaves, the Witch reminds the dwarf of the ancient prophecy. To end bad times in Narnia, four humans must sit in the thrones at Cair Paravel. If they kill Edmund, explains the Witch, the prophecy will not come true. The dwarf agrees with the Witch, and they tie Edmund to a tree and prepare to kill him.

At that moment, all of Aslan's creatures that followed the wolf burst into the scene. They free Edmund, but cannot find the Witch or the dwarf. The Witch uses her magic to transform herself into a boulder and the dwarf into an old stump. Eventually Aslan's creatures leave and the Witch removes her disguise.

The next morning Peter, Susan, and Lucy find out that Edmund has been rescued and brought back to the camp. Aslan has a long talk with Edmund, and while no one hears what he says, Aslan's words clearly have a positive effect. Edmund apologizes to the others and then keeps his mouth shut. A messenger from the Witch approaches and requests that Aslan meet the Witch to discuss an undisclosed topic. Aslan agrees.

We find out that Witch has asked Aslan to meet her so they can discuss Edmund. The Witch reminds Aslan of the "Deep Magic" of the Emperor Beyond the Sea, which says that any treachery committed in Narnia is punishable by death at the Witch's hands. Edmund is a traitor, so he must forfeit his life to her. Aslan admits that the Witch's words are correct. He then calls the Witch aside and has an intense and private discussion with her. When it is finished, the Witch looks elated and Aslan appears gloomy. Aslan tells everyone that the Witch has renounced her claim on Edmund's life. The Witch asks Aslan how she will know that Aslan will keep his promise. Aslan roars at her so fiercely that she runs for her life.

"You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill.... And so that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property... unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water."


The scene between Aslan and the Witch creates an overwhelming sense of dread. We realize that there are forces that even Aslan cannot fight, such as the Emperor's Deep Magic. The grim reaction that Aslan has following his mysterious conversation with the Witch also establishes a sense of foreboding. Aslan's powerlessness before the Deep Magic demonstrates that, although he may be the god of Narnia, even he must answer to a higher law. In Lewis's Christian allegory, Aslan represents Christ, or God the Son, and the Emperor represents God the Father. Just as Christ is subject to his Father and must obey his commands, Aslan must obey the mystical laws set by the mysterious Emperor. Aslan cannot defy the Deep Magic. Instead, like Christ, he sacrifices himself to atone for another person's sin.

Lewis establishes the Witch as a Satan-like figure. According to Christian belief, before the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, human souls were automatically forfeit to Satan after death. This state of affairs was due to Adam's original sin in the Garden of Eden, when Adam disobeyed God's order not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. God gives human beings free will, knowing that they may choose to sin. Because God is merciful, He sends Christ to redeem humankind after Adam's fall. But because God is just, someone has to die for the sins of human beings if humankind is to be redeemed, and this is what Christ takes upon himself to do. Similarly, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan cannot fight the law that traitors must forfeit their lives to the witch, but he can sacrifice himself in Edmund's place. Aslan's sacrifice must be what Aslan and the Witch discuss.

Lewis does not explain exactly what Aslan and the Witch talk about in their secret conversation. Instead, Lewis builds anticipation, describing only the reaction of Aslan and the Witch to their agreement. We are curious why Aslan is crestfallen and unhappy. We also realize that he must love Edmund intensely for him to make such a sacrifice to save his life. If we read the text very closely with an eye for other Christian symbols, we can predict what will happen next. Lewis is deliberately vague in creating connections to the Christian religion, allowing him to prolong the suspense and anticipation. Aslan's final roar is a release of tension, and the first time that we ever see him express powerful emotion. He usually appears dignified and reserved. Aslan's strong reaction to the Witch's question demonstrates that only an evil character like the Witch would dare doubt the lion's veracity. Aslan's roar also signals his great frustration and anger at dealing with forces that are out of his control.