The Wood Between Worlds has to be one of my favorite concepts from fiction and fantasy, ever.
This simple, lovely idea is from The Magician’s Nephew, the first novella in the Chronicles of Narnia. The idea is fairly simple. Digory Kirke (he’s the professor from the later Narnia novels) as a child is tricked into wearing a magic ring of his uncle’s, and when he (and a friend) put the rings on, they are transported to a wood with several trees and shallow pools where nothing ever happens—time doesn’t exist. Because of this, it has a sedative effect on the people who end up there—they can get stuck in that world and forget who they are and what they’re doing there. If you have the right ring on, however, and enter one of the seemingly-shallow pools, you can be transported to that location, a whole new world. Each pool, if the right ring is being worn, acts as a portal to a different world. If the world is destroyed, or all life therein is lost, then the pool dries up and disappears.
That’s really all there is to it—not a complicated idea. When I was a kid, it took me several attempts to force my way through The Magician’s Nephew, but the image of the Wood Between Worlds always stuck with me, because there were hundreds of pools in this wood—countless ones. C.S. Lewis shows us only three—including Earth and Narnia. I’ve always wondered what other worlds might the pools contain, had we been able to see more of them. Or maybe they’ve been found out by other ways, and other authors. Either way, the Wood Between Worlds is a place that’s always captured my imagination.
- Art by Kecky on Deviantart
Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning.
I have a confession to make. I love Peter Pan. I think I’ve been an escapist my entire life, and when you’re little, Never Never Land is the ultimate in escapism. Really, there’s mermaids, pirates, indians! What more could you want? (If you were like me as a kid, I was sold at mermaids!)
J.M. Barrie described Neverland as the map of a child’s mind, therefore it varies from child to child, so I really can’t give you a point-by-point description of the island (it’s always an island). The best I can do is to encourage you to think back to how you imagined Neverland to be. Mine, personally, was full of bright colors and was suspiciously influenced by the 1960 Mary Martin film (I cannot tell you how much I wanted a seat-sized toadstool after watching that movie. So, so much.)
The way to find it is always the same, second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning—of course to the right of what precisely is up to you—but if you’re meant to get there, you’ll know. It is also told that you can see Neverland, if you try. When you close your eyes really tight and the blackness explodes in bursts of impossible colors? That’s Neverland. It’s also meant to be the place just between waking and sleeping, that moment when you’re conscious, but still wrapped up in dream.
But really what’s magical about Neverland is how with just the slightest of suggestions J.M. Barrie managed to create a whole new, totally accessible and fully-customizable fantasy world. There are several reasons why Peter Pan is a classic, and Neverland is a big one.