The last year or so I’ve been thinking about Tinkerbell, and the way some men in the paraweird community use her name as a shorthand for a lightweight, ignorant take on faery lore. In addition to Tinkerbell’s iconography being true to an incredibly ancient symbol complex, I feel that this take gives short shrift to the role of the divine feminine, specifically the erotically driven feminine, in mythology and paranormal phenomenon.
I posted a somewhat flippant take on a famous scene from the novel and movie “Peter Pan” by J. M. Barrie on social media. I was fortunate that Jane Pojawa saw my post and shared her trenchant insights into the psychological, social, and mythological themes explored in Barrie’s novel. I reproduce our conversation here as a status report on an ongoing investigation and welcome reader’s contributions.
Stephanie Quick – original post: “Jungian Paranormaliists pooh-poohing Tinkerbell when in that same story Wendy finds Peter’s shadow and sews it back on smdh”
Jane Pojawa: “I read Peter Pan a few years ago – neither of us remembered reading the original story, just the movie from the 50s – which was still pretty damn weird, witness the whole shadow scene. Doesn’t disappoint. It’s Peter PAN and a case could be made that as a chaotic nature god, he’s actually the villain of the story. Also, he abducts children from the park and there is a dark reference to him “sorting them out” when they get too old.”
SQ: “exactly and wow! I have never read the book or seen the movie, but the last year have been struck by how much just the images and themes rattling around in the culture at large reflect classic paraweird mythical characteristics, themes and narrative arcs. A lot of the same themes are found in present day alien encounter narratives, ie the bedroom visitations and predominance of flight.
Wendy’s position and journey can be mapped onto that of Psyche’s with Peter as Cupid and Tinkerbell as Aphrodite, with the resolution of Wendy becoming a happy wife and mother.
There’s even reptilians and ships and the possibility of the dead (the lost boys are not aging, only one way out of time for humans…)
It’s really wild how these ancient mythical themes play out in children’s mass media, i suspect that’s why these particular stories have such staying power.
Thank you – i love how Peter even has pan pipes in this disney illustration
and YES ABDUCTION re ufo mythos overlap”
JP: “Wendy’s journey through the story is worth a dissertation all on its own! It’s a cautionary story of how females of any age are exploited to do the emotional labor of men and boys and that Peter Pan plans to keep her as a hostage to be a “mother” to his tribe so that he can continue to be their leader without facing the consequences of his abuse. She also has to contend with the jealousy of Tinkerbell and the mermaids and to an extent, Princess Tiger Lily, who are all competing for the Male Gaze. Like, Stephanie, it’s DEEP.”
SQ: “It really is!!! I’ve been on a bit of a thinking rant about it as in the paraweird community ‘Tinkerbell’ is often used as a pejorative for lightweight idiocy. But as you point out Peter Pan is a very complex story, really deals with the intersection of the paranormal and the imaginal in these liminal periods like puberty, and as you point out there are very dark themes and real life consequences. And, as you point out so aptly, it deals with the whole gendered aspects of these weird events and societal structures too.
If I had mucho cash we could go have a retreat seminar someplace and start hashing all this out!!! or at least come up with an annotated outline to start.”
JP: “Tinkerbell gets a bad rap! Yes, she is capricious, petty and vindictive. But she’s also a magical being – so much so that Neverland’s magic largely derives from her. Is she the female manifestation of Pan? Maybe. That’s something to discuss on Peter Pan Retreat Weekend. The fact is, Peter Pan unknowingly threw a huge wrench into the works by seducing/abducting a human girl and Tinkerbell recognized that. There’s a shift in the energy balance on the island that would ultimately destroy the entropy that keeps everything running if Wendy comes to power. It goes deeper than a fairy’s crush (and sense of entitlement). Barrie only had one good story in him (much like Carroll, or for that matter JK Rowling) and in some ways it feels “channeled.”
Let me add that Wendy’s power and also the genesis of her exploitation comes from her willingness, even eagerness, to do the emotional heavy lifting for all of the boys. Secondarily, it is her ability to tell stories – rather like a more benevolent Scheherazade situation – which also means that to a degree she is in charge of the narrative. Tinkerbell expresses a different feminine magic, which is devalued by Pan, but she speaks up. Her backtalk and refusal to comply is one of her defining characteristics, as well as the fact that fairies do age and die.”