What is the Meaning of Aslan’s Name?

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What is the meaning of Aslan’s name in Narnia? I have always found it curious that the name of Aslan caused such different reactions in the Pevensie children. In fact, when I first read that passage, something jumped in me too:

“At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

There was something relatable about it. Surprisingly, there was something relatable even in Edmund’s reaction to the name.

“But Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror.”

It felt like some judgment was going on. Not externally but internally. The name of Aslan was the ultimate revealer of what was in a person. It amplified the contents of your heart. If there was light in it, you could almost touch it. If there was darkness there, you couldn’t help but feel horror.

When I read John 3:19, it all came together:

“This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.” 

What is the meaning of Aslan’s name in Narnia? When the light comes, it reveals what is. There’s nothing else to judge. Judgment is internal. It jumps from within us every moment we encounter the Light. We either delight in the light or hide from it. Depending on the state of my consciousness in the moment, the Light will either make me lighter or heavier.

The same curious thing happened in The Lord of the Rings when the company entered Lothlórien. The effect of entering the realm of the Lady was such that all the company felt the presence of some inexplicable magic.

For some, it was a delight. For others, torment. Tolkien seems to suggest that the whole land was Galadriel’s mirror — not just the stone mirror itself. As the fellowship walked through the enchanted wood, they saw their secret thoughts and desires revealed as if in a mirror.

Some liked it; others hated it. But they couldn’t hide from it. They stepped into a land of the Last Judgement unfolding 24/7. Galadriel wasn’t the Judge — she was the revealer of what was in each person’s heart. The Judgement was internal, not external.

For Boromir it was torment. For Aragorn, it was a delight. Boromir said,

“It is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed.’ ‘Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth,’ said Aragorn.”

In the final analysis, we are all judged by how we respond to our encounter with the Ultimate Beauty. For some, it is an eternal delight. For some, eternal torment. If you come with a pure heart, it is a delight. If you come with an idol, it is a curse.

The Light is always sweet for the one who allows it in. It is a horror to the one who doesn’t. The encounter with the Ultimate Beauty can be either heaven or hell — depending on what is inside one’s heart already.