Few authors of fantasy literature are as beloved as C.S. Lewis. Time magazine had listed the first of his Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as one of the top 100 English language novels written in the twentieth century.
Cannabis In Narnia?
Who would have thought C.S. Lewis would actually write the chronic into the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’. He did this by slipping cannabis edibles into the first published installment: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950.
According to the theory, Lewis – who was born 118 years ago today – laced drug, tobacco and alcohol references into his earlier work. His character the White Witch, who used dark magic to plunge Narnia into perpetual winter. She also liked edibles.
The interpretation centers on the White Witch’s corruption of Edmund – one of the children who stumbles upon the fantasy world of Narnia after walking through the wardrobe. The White Witch tricks Edmund into her service by conjuring a box of Turkish Delight and promising to give him more once he does her bidding.
Where Did Lewis Learn About Cannabis?
Lewis’ Turkish Delight is not an enchanted candy from fairyland, though. In the book Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years by Ernest Abel (New York and London, Plenum Press, 1980), we find out where Lewis quite likely got his “inspiration” for “enchanted” Turkish Delight.
“As in India, local officials in Egypt were alarmed at the large numbers of inhabitants who used hashish directly or in confections, many of which were exported to Europe. Among the variety of confectionery treats containing hashish that were sent abroad were ‘Turkish Delight,’ square pieces of hashish containing sugar and gelatin which were a particular favorite of the students at Cambridge University in England.”
Was This On Purpose?
So Lewis may have known about this particular type of hash edibles. But did he deliberately incorporate them into his story?
Lewis portrays Edmund as eating the edibles quite greedily, and the more he eats the more he wants it – implying an addiction. Was this an attempt by C.S. Lewis to normalize cannabis use subliminally? Or was this an attempt of propaganda by a declared conservative of his time?
Maybe there’s a simpler explanation. Children like sugar. And if you don’t stop them from eating candy, they’ll gobble it up until it makes them sick.