One of the aspects of Peter Pan that has always intrigued me is that of the crocodile that swallowed a clock and that tracks Captain Hook.
Crocodiles have a rich heritage in many folklore stories and myhologies. Below are listed a brief and incomplete examples.
Among many Egyptian references there is Ammut who devours the hearts of wrongdoers.
In some Native American mythologies the crocodile, or alligator, is a sun-swallower with links to rebirth.
In Arabian folklore it passes judgement on the accused and in West Africa it embodies the soul of someone wronged who seeks vengeance.
In Mediavel Europe it represented hypocrisy and in Jungian psychology it represented torpid ill-temper.
I am sure there is also an Alchemical meaning for the crocodile, but have not been able to confirm this with research so far.
Captain Hook is, certainly, an ill-tempered wrongdoer and there are other aspects of the definitions above that apply but, to my mind, the crocodile in Peter Pan represents something else.
Mortality and Aging.
Pan is the eternal boy who never grows up. His adversary, Hook, represents all he desires to avoid, namely, his own maturity, old age and death. Hook, in essence, is Peter, grown up or, at least, how Pan may, potentially grow up; into a joyless, hollow and, ultimately, meaningless life. A person who has grown up, or had to grow up in a world that denies magic and wonder. The “real” world of responsibility, work, commitments…
Peter fights against his own inevitable destiny. How many adults are walking around today having lost touch with their inner Pan? Trapped in the cycle of survival and necessity feeling lost, with the ever present sound of a clock ticking and the crocodile of regret snapping at their heels? Perhaps, regretting their lost youth and envious of those who are still young. Trying to recapture it in some form of mid-life crisis.
Peter Pan fights Hook in an attempt to stay ever young Hook wants to kill him, to destroy the magic represented by Peter which he, himself, has lost. Hook is all too aware of the ticktock croc’.
The story represents an internal struggle in each individual human psyche.
If we then start to contemplate Wendy and Tinkerbell, representing the Feminine and magical aspects of our psyche, we may begin to unravel a mythological teaching.
In some respects there are too many Peters in our modern culture; men who want to remain eternal boys, mothered and pampered, taken care of and avoiding personal responsibility. Lost little boys who want to continually act like a lad and never grow up. Being Peter Pan is not a healthy choice. One might also suggest that Peter remaining a boy means never going through adolescence and sexual maturity. He remains unable to “father” the next generation. Fraud would see something in this fear of sexual potency
So too, many grow up and become disillusioned and weary, their spirit broken and out of touch with their inner sun/son. Regretful of a lost youth and living a tick tock life of dissatisfaction and torpid ill temper.
So if both have destructive aspects what is the answer?
We have to grow up, to move from being a child to being an adult but we can still retain a childlike awe and wonder for the world and the things within it. We just need to acknowledge the inner Wendy, the inner Pan and sprinkle a little fairy dust into our lives.