This was a particularly influential story for me growing up - partly because it made me never want to in the first place! The Disney cartoon version is partly responsible for developing my artistic talent. As a child I would draw constantly! I would draw out all off my day-dreams during the day, in the car, and at restaurants on the paper placemats. But what took me from drawing like a child to drawing more cartoon-like images was what I learned from watching Disney’s Peter Pan. At age 6, when I watched the film, I would carefully press pause at just the right moments during the Mermaid Lagoon scene and attempt to draw various mermaids. This was before home-computers with internet access, mind you, so if one wanted to attempt to draw a cartoon character, it was not possible to do a Google search for pictures of the character and print them out at home. Here are some of the mermaids I would attempt to draw, (in case you would like to do just that):
Mostly, Peter Pan inspired me to want to visit Neverland myself. And so, like any logical person, I carefully watched the Disney’s Peter Pan as well as the 1960 Peter Pan starring Mary Martin trying to determine what made Wendy and her brothers so special that Peter chose to take them to Neverland, or even visit their nursery window for that matter. I came to the following conclusion:
Peter Pan – and the Lost Boys as well – love stories, and Peter chose to visit the Darling household because Wendy’s mother and Wendy herself told stories! Therefore, this is what I would have to do to attract Peter Pan to my bedroom window and eventually be taken away on an adventure of my own. This, ladies and gentleman, was the beginning of my life-long hobby of writing stories, my current aspirations to write a novel, and my decision after high school to major in English Language and Literature in university.
And it worked!
Well, sort of. It didn’t work exactly as I had planned.
One day, I noticed a Faerie Ring in my front yard. A Faerie Ring, for those of you who do not know, is a circle of mushrooms which can only form from faeries having danced in a circle on the very spot where the mushrooms occur. Legend has it that one must never step into the circle of mushrooms for fear of being taken away by the faeries.
Well, that’s all very well I thought, but what if one wants to be taken? Surely if one wishes to be taken by the faeries then stepping into the circle is a rather good idea! And so I did. Unfortunately, nothing that very moment happened.
Why the constant references to sewing, and why does it seem to occur just before something magical and new happens in the story? My belief, is that it all has to do with the Three Fates - as Fate, or “Fata” is where we get the word “faerie”! These three characters of Greek Mythology were the personification of destiny who guarded the metaphocial “threads” of human lives.
One was named Clotho (where we get the word “cloth”) and she was responsible for spinning the thread that was a human life.
The second was named Lachesis who measured the thread, or measured the lifespan of each individual.
The third was Atropos who cut the thread. She was responsible for choosing how each person would eventually die.
Together, these sisters were called the Moirae. Moira literally means “a part or portion, and by extension one's portion in life or destiny” and if you recall, Wendy’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling.
Well, perhaps stepping into the Faerie Ring and spending my time afterword sewing determined my fate. Before I could finish my project I fell asleep. When I woke, I expected to find myself in the living room of my home, right where I fell asleep in the first place! But when I woke, this was what I saw:
Not only did I fall asleep inside my house and awaken outside, but I woke all alone in a place that I had never before been! In addition to everything I saw around me, I saw the following purse hanging from its strap on a tree:
I thought this was strange of course, for I had never before seen a purse in this style, and I could see nobody to whom the purse could belong.
At first of course, I assumed that someone had hung the bag temporarily and left, but would return to retrieve it, so I did not bother to touch it. But I started to grow impatient and rather nervous, to be honest, and my curiosity got the better of me. I took down the purse and opened it. This is what it contained:
On the back of the map were instructions explaining just how to determine which direction to go to Hangman's tree based on my surroundings, but being curious about the pirate ship, I decided to hike in the opposite direction! I replaced the items back in the purse and carried it over my shoulder, all the time wondering just what was in that pouch, and what would happen if I did in fact "use its contents" as Tink warned against. I was desperately hoping it was Fairy Dust, and that it would allow me to fly!
Luckily I was no longer afraid. Normally I probably would not have journeyed to the pirate ship alone, but I remembered that Peter defeated Captain Hook, so I made the dangerous assumption that Hook would not be present at the ship.
When I reached the Jolly Roger – Captain Hook's ship – I was impressed by its size and beauty. Naturally I was tempted to climb aboard, and did so after seeing nobody on deck.
Most of the ship appeared abandoned, as if nobody had been living aboard it for a very long time, but eventually I came to a particular room, that seemed to be a very sophisticated, but creepy study:
I examined the gold-jewelled plate and was convinced of their authenticity.
I would have examined the wine goblet closer, but to my surprise, it still contained a small amount of red wine!
Perhaps the ship was not completely abandoned after all! And perhaps I came very close to encountering the slimiest slime in the world, the sleaziest sleaze of the seven seas himself!
I examined the room a little further and found the following:
Poison ... could this be the same poison that Hook used to poison Peter's medicine ... the same poison that Tink eventually drank to save his life?
I would have to ask her about this when I finally meet her.
Since chills were creeping up my spine and I was worried about being late for tea with Tink (thus making her realize that I disobeyed her advise) I quickly left and hiked back to where I awoke. Once there, I sat to take a break and reviewed my map and note before continuing West to Hangman's Tree.
While hiking West, I continued to wonder what was in the small pouch, and what would happen if I used its contents ... after all, if it was Fairy Dust, wouldn't I be able to reach Hangman's tree much faster?
I started to think I was getting close to reaching my destination but I did not yet see any trees that I thought could provide a significant hideaway for Peter and his Lost Boys. I did however, spot something pink on the ground amid the leaves and plants in the distance. Upon coming closer, this is what I found:
A magnificent pair of Faerie Slippers made of flower petals and leaves! I had hoped that they were left for me, and I was desperate to try them on. I looked around to see if I could see anyone because, like the purse, I did not want to violate someone else’s belongings. Since I did not see anyone, I did try them on and they were in fact just my size!
A large tree – one of the largest I had ever seen in fact. It was magnificent, and I circled around it, assuming it must be Hangman’s Tree and that there must be some kind of door or entrance. When I finally did come across a door, it was shocked by how small it was. Even if I was a child, I would have to have crawled on my hands and knees to enter!
It was then that I remembered the small pouch from Tink – I had almost forgotten it entirely! She instructed in her note not to open the pouch or used its contents until I reached Hangman’s Tree and, well, there I was! So I carefully opened my purse and took out the pouch. I loosened the strings and poured out what was inside:
Could this be what I think it is? Fairy Dust?
Only one way to find out .... I sprinkled the glittering powder all over myself and searched for happy thoughts; but before I could find any, I found everything around me growing strangely larger! I was becoming frightened very quickly, but when I turned toward the door at the foot of Hangman’s Tree, I realized everything was not growing bigger, but I was growing smaller! The dust was not Fairy Dust – I didn’t think. Otherwise I certainly would not have shrunk in size, but would have been lifted into the air ... Suddenly I realized why Tinkerbell did not want me to use the dust until I had reached Hangman’s Tree. To think that during my journey I had assumed it would help me arrive there faster but, being the size of a small bird, in truth it would have made my journey much longer!
I entered the rustic hideaway and looked around, hoping to find the boy who wouldn’t grow up himself, but unfortunately, the home was empty. Like the Jolly Roger, this home looked like it had not been lived in for a very long time. But as I continued to explore, I spotted something interesting in a corner ... a kiss!
Well, two kisses, to be exact. One was a thimble, no doubt the thimble that Wendy gave to Peter after sewing his shadow back on for him! And the other was an acorn – this must have been one of the buttons on Peter’s clothes! Peter gave Wendy a kiss as well, and chose a button from his shirt; and since his clothes are made of leaves, his buttons must be made of nuts like acorns! I came to the conclusion that this hideaway was not abandoned, that it was The Lost Boys who were no longer living here as they had returned to grow up, and that Peter himself was still residing here.
Then I spotted something else in another corner ... teapots! Teapots that were just big enough for me to drink use, which was odd considering my currently miniature size! I knew right away that it must be the workshop of Tinkerbell, whose job it was to mend the faerie pots and kettles!
“Lilly?” I head. “Lilly, is that you?”
And then I saw her ... Tinkerbell herself!
“Come on in, the tea’s starting to get cold.”
“I can understand everything you’re saying! How come? I thought that your voice sounded like the tinkling of a bell?”
“It does. To normal-sized humans. But now you’re my size, so you can hear everything I say
just as you could understand everyone else you know!”
I was so glad I could understand her.
“I see you found your slippers. I do hope they are confortable?”
“Yes, very,” I answered quickly. “These are for me then? Thank you so much; they’re beautiful!”
We sat at a lovely table and drank tea that tasted like nothing I had ever tried before!
“Wait a minute - if I drink this, will I be trapped here forever?”
Tink smiled. “I see you’ve done your research about Faerie-lore. Don’t worry; once our time together is up you will be returned to your home and you will wake right where you fell asleep. Normally we would not be so generous, of course, but the usual rules do not apply to those who wander into Faerie Rings on purpose.”
I felt embarrassed. It seemed she was implying that I should know better.
“Now, since you seemed to have wanted to meet Faeries, I take it you must have some questions for me?”
“Actually, yes. I don’t know where to begin. I’ve wanted to visit Neverland and meet Peter Pan almost all my life. You know him best ... what is it about him that is so intriguing?”
“Where do I begin? Part of his intrigue could be the fact that he never ages. Not only does everyone wish to remain young forever, but when a character never ages, he or she is usually some sort of god! If not, they usually have god-like or super-human powers. Think of vampires like Bill Compton from Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries ... the character Richard Alpert from ABC’s LOST ... and Doctor Who! All of these characters never age and have many other traits in common with Peter Pan!”
I was amazed. It was true.
“Also, his last name is Pan. Pan is a very famous god in Roman and Greek mythology. If you look him up, I’m sure you’ll find many of his qualities similar to those of my good friend Peter.”
I knew this was true.
“I should add that the stories written about him by James Matthew Barrie are intriguing as well. They have much wisdom within them.”
“Wisdom? I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Well, we’ve inspired you to take English at the university, did we not? In your time there you must have studied Carl Jung’s theories about archetypes ...”
“Yes,” I said, “but what does that have to do with Peter?”
“One of Jung’s archetypes was the Anima or Animus. The Anima is a set of unconscious feminine attributes in men, while the Animus is the set of unconscious masculine attributes in women. In other words, the anima is the feminine side of men, and the animus is the masculine side of women. Well, if you studied the James Matthew Barrie novel Peter Pan in university, your professor could argue that Peter is really the animus of Wendy – her unconscious masculine side whom she dreams into a human character while she sleeps!”
I was very impressed. “Wow ... I don’t know. I agree with what you are saying, of course, but I doubt the professor I had for my course in Children’s Literature would have been smart enough to come up with all that.” Tink laughed. “But if the Peter in the book is Wendy’s animus, what does that mean exactly?”
“It means that, if the Wendy in the book develops her animus (male attributes) or comes to terms with the masculine side of herself, she becomes more internally aware of what she feels and believes, and is more capable of expressing those thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.”
“So, it means she learns more about herself!”
“So, is that all there is to it then? The book I mean. Is that why it is so intriguing?”
“Not quite. There is the issue of Peter’s shadow. Carl Jung said that ‘everyone carries a shadow ... the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it gets.”
“So, again, what does this have to do with Peter’s shadow in the book?”
“Well, for Carl Jung, the shadow represented repressed weaknesses and shortcomings ... the bad things about ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge but can plainly see in others. Negative traits.”
“Okay ... but Peter’s shadow is ‘embodied.’ He has it with him and when he loses it he searches desperately to find it.”
“Exactly!” Tink declared. “If only we could all be so brave. If only we were all willing to search for the negative things about ourselves, acknowledge them, and remember them always. Peter expected that he and his shadow would merge together like drops of water. This is what Jung believed we must try to achieve in order to become stronger, and more whole. People must accept their shadows – the bad things about themselves – to become more conscious of themselves.”
“Wow, that makes sense. Here I thought Captain Hook represented the shadow figure.”
“Well, you’re not completely wrong. Captain Hook has a lot of negative things about himself that he has not acknowledged. Of course, he is fully aware of his wickedness and revels in it. I would say that, unlike Peter, Captain Hook is an individual who has let the shadow – the dark side of his personality – take over. He is motivated by nothing but revenge.”
“Well, I agree with you there. But Tink, I think I might be too if someone cut off my hand ... especially if that person fed it to a crocodile who wanted to eat the rest of me!”
“Yes, a lot of people would want revenge, and be unable to move on with their lives. I think Captain Hook’s missing hand is a good example of what we were talking about before when we were discussing the shadow ... our weaknesses, our shortcomings, the things about ourselves that we are ashamed of, that make us feel not-good-enough. Missing a limb, having a disability, being sick, not having a very good education, low social status ... these are all examples of things that can make people feel not-good-enough. And some people, like Captain Hook, cannot move on with their lives and feel that they need to prove something or make up for their weakness to feel happy. And very often, they bully others who have what it is they feel they are missing.”
This confused me a bit. “But doesn’t Captain Hook ‘bully’ Peter because Peter is the one who cut off his hand in the first place?” I asked.
“That is what Hook says. But Peter and Hook were duelling when his hand was severed in the first place. Duelling is dangerous. One takes a great risk of getting injured when sword-fighting. If he didn’t want to get hurt, he should not have fought with Peter in the first place. And now, as he grows older he still refuses to let the past go and move on. When he hears the ticking of the clock that the crocodile swallowed, instead of remembering that life is short and that he should use his time wisely, he remembers the loss of his hand to the crocodile.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds like we all have a crocodile with a ticking clock following us ... reminding us of our mortality ... reminding us that we need to do the things that are important.”
“Exactly! And speaking of ticking clocks, I believe our time is up.”
“Already? But I still have so much more I need to ask you.” I was so hoping she would answer more of my questions. She seemed to know so much.
“I understand, but I simply must return you to your home. Perhaps we would have had more time to chat if you had not wasted so much time exploring the Jolly Roger – a very dangerous pursuit, I might add.”
I was hoping she didn’t know about that. Still, I got the feeling that she was not mad – just disappointed in me.
And just like that, it was over.
I woke up back in my house, in my living room right where I had fallen asleep amid my sewing project, and like Wendy I wondered if everything I had experienced was simply a dream. And I went about the rest of the day believing it was a dream too, until my mother told me to come outside in the backyard.
She led me out to her garden, and tucked between the lilies were the Faerie Slippers!
“Do you know anything about this?” she asked.
“I think so,” I answered.