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The Bible in The Magician’s Nephew: The Great Tree of Narnia

Welcome to Part III of my “God in Narnia” Series! This is also the final installment of The Magician’s Nephew part of the Series. If you missed Part I or Part II, be sure to read up on them before or after reading this one! Enjoy!

“Well done, son of Adam,” said the Lion again. “For this fruit you have hungered and thirst and wept. No hand but yours shall sow the seed of the Tree that is to be the protection of Narnia. Throw the apple towards the river bank where the ground is soft.”

Digory did as he was told. Everyone had grown so quiet that you could hear the soft thump where it fell into the mud.

“It is well thrown,” said Aslan. “Let us now proceed to the Coronation of King Frank of Narnia and Helen his Queen.” ….

“Look!”

Everyone in that crowd turned its head, and then everyone drew a long breath of wonder and delight. A little way off, towering over their heads, they saw a tree which had certainly not been there before. It must have grown up silently, yet swiftly as a flag rises when you pull it up on a flagstaff, while they were all busied about the coronation. Its spreading branches seemed to cast a light rather than a shade, and silver apples peeped out like stars from under every leaf. But it was the smell which came from it, even more than the sight, that had made everyone draw in their breath. For a moment one could hardly think about anyone else.

“Son of Adam,” and Aslan, “you have sown well. And you, Narnians, let it be your first care to guard this Tree, for it is your Shield. The Witch of whom I told you has fled far away into the North of the world; she will live on there, growing stronger in dark Magic. But while that Tree flourishes she will never come down into Narnia. She dare not come within a hundred miles of the Tree, for its smell, which is joy and life and health to you, is death and horror and despair to her.”
— The Magician’s Nephew

I love this Narnian passage! It reminds me of a similar one in the Book of Revelation:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
— Revelation 22:1, 2

Now I don’t know what this Tree in Heaven looked like because John the Revelator doesn’t tell us. But I imagine that it has to be even more glorious than that ancient Tree found in Narnia. However, we do know that the purposes of the Trees is similar.

The holy Tree in Heaven is for “the healing of the nations” of our world, while the Tree in Narnia is for the protection of the nation. Isn’t it funny what a powerful role trees play in the Story of the Bible and Narnia?

Strawberry turning into Fledge

Polly & Digory flying on Fledge, formerly known as "Strawberry," on their mission to fetch the Apple from the Tree in Aslan's Garden

It was, I believe, the same Tree of Life found in the Garden of Eden that would have granted Adam and Eve and their descendants everlasting life. That wond’rous Tree was specifically planted in their midst and we imagine that they would have eventually eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had they not been exiled from Eden.

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
— Genesis 2:9
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened…
— Genesis 3:1-7

Digory before the Tree in Aslan's Garden

Just as a Tree granted us life, so another Tree granted us death. And so we see a similar theme continued in The Magician's NephewIn Part I, we saw how Jadis a.k.a. the White Witch stole into Aslan’s Garden illegally and took some of the fruit for herself, an action expressly prohibited.

Come in by the gold gates or not at all,
Take of my fruit for others or forbear,
For those who steal or those who climb my wall
Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.

And now, by Aslan’s word, we see that her desire was also her punishment. And is was with the “sons of Adam” and “daughters of Eve.” Eve’s desire for knowledge, impressed upon her by “that serpent of old,” was granted her, but with it, came death unexpected. She, like Jadis, did not believe the Word of the Great Lion and subjected herself and her descendants to a mortal fate. Yet the Tree remains the protection of the area.

And while we may not have access to Eden anymore, try though we might (because it’s a portal! *smile) we who live on with Christ will have access to this great Tree of Healing for the Nations. And in fact, I believe we can pray for these leaves of healing to penetrate our earth even now. After all, are we not called to pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven"? 

There are many types and shadows or earthly replicas of heavenly truth mentioned in Scripture:

  • The Garden of Eden

  • The Tabernacle

  • The Temple

I’m sure there are others. And like the other earthly replicas, they are an extension of heaven on earth, temporal types of eternal truths. Again, this takes me back to the Narnian tales. We see another tree mention in the end of The Magician's Nephew

It was like this. The tree which sprang from the core of the Apple that Digory planted in the back garden, lived and grew into a fine tree. Growing in the soil of our world, far out of the sound of Aslan’s voice and far from the young air of Narnia, it did not bear apples that would revive a dying woman as Digory’s Mother had been revived, though it were extremely good for you, though not fully magical. But inside itself, in the very sap of it, the tree (so to speak) never forgot that other tree in Narnia to which it belonged. Sometimes it would move mysteriously when there was no wind blowing: I think that when this happened there were high winds in Narnia and the English tree quivered because, at that moment, the Narnia Tree was rocking and swaying in a strong south-western gale. However that might be, it was proved later that there was still magic in its wood. For when Digory was quite middle-aged (and he was a famous learned man, a Professor, and a great traveller by that time) and the Ketterley’s old house belonged to him, there was a great storm all over the south of England which blew the tree down. He couldn’t bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did. That was the beginning of all the comings and goings between Narnia and our world, which you can read of in other books.

The product of Digory's apple tree many years later

We may not be able to build magic wardrobes, but we can see the power of the leaves of the Great Tree’s healing for the nations (which comes from God)--as well as the revival (River of God) that comes with it--when we pray according to God’s Word.

Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
— Psalm 2:8
Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh [brings healing]; so where the river flows everything will live.
— Ezekiel 47:9