“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”
A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?
In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.
“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.
But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?
Fly, of course.
It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.
What’s the matter? Don’t you know?
Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “
And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.
What is this Never Land of which he spoke?
Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.
In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.
Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.
Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.
The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.
In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.
Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.
You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.