He’s Not A Tame Lion

There’s a small plant in my garden that has been struggling all summer. It’s a Mediterranean native, Teucrium (Germander), so the heat and drought shouldn’t cause it too much upset. Even so, it labors to survive. (I’m down to three tiny shoots at this point.) To brighten its sad little pot, I inscribed a sign that reads, “Toads welcome. Fairies, please seek management approval.”

Teucrium_chamaedrys_1Photo: Franz Xaver

To clarify, while I do have a leprechaun living on my patio and I have no current conflict with any of the Old Folk, I don’t want to invite fairies into my garden. For starters, they bite. They’re not the sort of creatures one should flippantly entertain. It’s not that they’re necessarily bad; they’re wild. And if you get on a fairy’s wrong side, it’s quite likely to tear up your plants, chew on the branches of your dormant rose bush, and posture any and all rude hand gestures familiar to it.

I think C.S. Lewis had a very clear understanding of the fairy realm. In Prince Caspian, Susan and Lucy have a brief and lovely encounter with a wild young boy who, it turns out, is Bacchus. Soon after joining up with Aslan, the girls, the god, the lion and a host of woodland creatures romp through the Narnian forest eating grapes to excess.

“One saw sticky and stained fingers everywhere, and, though mouths were full, the laughter never ceased nor the yodeling cries of Euan, euan, eu-oi-oi-oi-oi, till all of a sudden everyone felt at the same moment that the game (whatever it was), and the feast, ought to be over, and everyone flopped down breathless on the ground and turned their faces to Aslan to hear what he would say next.”

At the very end of this mad and joyful encounter, Susan confides to her sister, “’I wouldn’t have felt safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.’” To which Lucy replies, “’I should think not.’”

So I suppose I wouldn’t mind inviting the company of fairies into my garden if I had Aslan beside me in the flesh. For he is both wild and good.

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