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Dream Work in Literature- Peter Pan- Part 1- Finding Neverland Within

Dream Interpretation, Fairy Dust, Collective Unconscious

Why are myths and stories so important? Why do we sit entranced while viewing our favorite movie or play? For the same reasons Peter Pan waits every night outside the Darling’s nursery window. It is because we are missing something. Something deep down in the primordial soup of our souls is longing for something. Something more.

In an interview outlined by the book, The Power of Myth, the following was dictated: Joseph Campbell was asked by Bill Moyer, “What happens when a society no longer embraces a powerful mythology?”

He responded, “What we’ve got on our hands. If you want to find out what it means to have a society without any rituals, read the New York Times. The news of the day, including destructive and violent acts by young people who don’t know how to behave in a civilized society.”

Moyers added, “Society has provided them no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind. Where do the kids growing up in the city- on 125th and Broadway, for example- where do these kids get their myths today?”

Campbell responded, “They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city. These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they’re doing the best they can. But they’re dangerous because their own laws are not those of the city. They have not been initiated into our society.” (p.9)

Myths and stories reflect the dreams of the collective unconscious or as James Barrin might call, Neverland. We all have our own Neverland that we seek out in our dreams or through creative works. It is where we can be anything, anywhere and at anytime. It is a place where we can be a part of what might otherwise seem impossible. Neverland is a land of hope and inspiration. If we lose the ability to reach out and find it in our dreams, then we lose this hope. We lose our creativity. We lose a large part of ourselves. Therefore, it is most important that we keep a map of Neverland handy. As well as a little fairy dust. And it is most important to not forget the myths and stories. This story is about a map. The map begins with a window. The window is a portal out of the conscious and into the unconscious. Mrs. Darling cries out to Mr. Darling, “The window must always be kept open!” (Barrin, James p. 32) We must keep it open for Peter and his Shadow to enter and for ourselves to fly out.

At first it is difficult to fly because we can’t image flying. Using the Law of Attraction or as Peter says, “by thinking happy thoughts” we can start to visualize ourselves lifting off the ground, moving towards the window, then finally leaping by faith alone into the breath of night- into the unconscious. We must first hover above on the edges of clouds, until we are sent a message from below. The message shoots passed us with the force of a cannon ball. The messenger, our Shadow, is wearing a pirate suit. He’s dark and ruthless. Tired of playing these childish games. He is on the hunt for something within us all and time is not on his side. Damaged by time, he himself runs from the ticking crocodile. It’s own Shadow haunts him in his dreams. Tick-tock! Tick-tock!

After many visits, we start to notice the sea reacts to our emotions. If we are angry, the sea is raging. If we are cold and indifferent, the sea freezes and is motionless. If we think happy thoughts, the sea is alive and beautiful. The pirate ship is always lurking in the sea of our deep unconscious. Peter Pan first takes us to visit the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys represent the lost childhood in all of us. The part of us that still longs for a mother. A mother to comfort and love us in the ways only a mother could. These boys are so lost that they mistake an acorn for a kiss. However, I will add that because Peter believed with his heart that the acorn was a kiss, in essence it did in fact become one. The kiss that saved Wendy from the poisoned arrow.

Next on our tour of Neverland, Peter Pan takes us to visit the Indians. Indians represent our deep instinctual primitive drives. It is our need to be more aligned with nature. We need to listen to these drives because they help us grow and develop a more balanced psyche. When then go and visit the mermaids. Peter warns us that the mermaids are not sweet like the ones in other stories. He warns they know all the secrets of the sea- collective unconscious and will try to drown us if we get to close. No matter how far away we run, we eventually fall into a booby trap set up by our Shadow. His hook is always ready to grab us when we least expect it. When we do finally get a close look at him, we notice as Wendy did that, “his eyes aren’t frightening after all, but merely entrancing.” (Barrin, p.53)

We notice something else as well. Captain James Hook also longs for stories especially stories about himself. Our Shadows want desperately to be heard and understand. They are tired of chasing us. If we take charge of our destiny and walk the plank, the gift of the Shadow is just below. Ready to catch us. It is belief. Belief in the impossible. Belief in the Self. Belief that no matter how far below the depths of the sea we fall, the Self will catch us and bring us back up to the surface. The surface of reality.

Then we will come to realize that the Neverland in James Barrin’s story of Peter Pan and Neverlands everywhere are all apart of who we are. It is within us just like a hidden kiss. We must continue to tap into the sacred spaces of our collective dreams and tell the stories so others can feel their power. I am a writer and chose to research the power of myth and stories because I believe I can make a difference in people’s lives by reaching them consciously and unconsciously through the written word. I believe myths and stories need to be given higher priority. Mothers and fathers need to tell the stories to their children in hopes that they will identify with the heroes of yesterday.

Children who do not have mothers or fathers need to realize that there is a bigger Mother and a bigger Father inside the collective experience of dreams. We need to teach our children ways to engage with this collective energy. Ways to find Neverland so that they have something to believe in.

Children need to feel as though they have some control of their nightmares both in their dreams and waking lives. James Barrin wrote Peter Pan as a way to find his lost mother along with a lost sense of Self. Many children and adults just anesthesize their nightmares with drugs, some prescribed and some not, or other forms of abuse to themselves and others. They need to numb the pain because they fear it. They fear the Shadow. They need to suffer through the pain and become one with the Shadow, one stitch at a time allowing the needle and thread to move with great emotion in and out of their souls. Like heroes from past myths, they need to find the courage to walk the plank of life and dive head first into the sea of the great inner Self.

It is only when we have been transformed by the Neverland, that we will be able to see the glimmer of light and hear the tingle of bells leading us down our true paths. Leading us to a more enlightened life full of complex meaning that we understand and reflect on ourselves and in others. The only thing we need to learn how to fly is to think happy thought and believe in the fairies. Believe in the light within us. Listen for the bells calling us towards the inner Self. And don’t forget a little fairy dust!

Works Cited

Barrie, James. (2006). Peter Pan. J.W. Edwards, Inc.

Campbell, Joseph (1993). Myths to Live By. New York, New York: The Penguin Group.

Campbell, Joseph & Moyer, Bill. (1988). The Power of Myth. New York: Anchor Books.

Taylor, Jeremy. (1983). Dream Work: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Power in Dreams. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press

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