In his science fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis takes readers to a new vista, a strange planet, not unlike Earth called Malacandra. The main character, Ransom, is taken prisoner and brought by two scientists to the planet, where they hope to use him as a sacrifice for the strange inhabitants, the sorns. Not long after arriving, Ransom escapes and begins to navigate the new terrain. He encounters both the sorns and the hross, and befriends one creature, Hyoi, and spends time with him learning their customs and ways. Later, Ransom travels through an ether type atmosphere to commune with a god-like spirit-presence called, Oyarsa, an eldil or ruler, who explains that Ransom’s own planet, Thulacandra, or the silent planet, is ruled by an evil warring people, abandoned by the eldil. Ransom goes through a few more obstacles in order to get back to Earth, and once returned, wants to share his story, one he doesn’t think anyone will believe.
C. S. Lewis, best known for his Narnia series, takes on spirituality and human actions in this thinly disguised sci-fi novel. It is said the novel was inspired by a conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien, about how unsatisfied they were with the state of fiction at the time. For this blog post, we’ll take a look at the pagan themes presented in Lewis' work, perhaps even hidden away in this gem.
One of the first take-aways for the pagan reader is the relationship Ransom has with the hross, a sort of human-animal creation, that lives in nature, and does not hurt or take more than it needs. At first, Ransom can’t understand the hross, but as he quiets his own thoughts and expectations, he slowly starts to communicate with them. It is similar to the way earth-based spiritualities honor the natural world. Whereas the mainstream might accept that trees, rocks, animals, and so forth can’t communicate, pagans do. It is when Ransom releases his fear that he is allowed to be part of the hross community and ultimately understand them.