Walt Disney was a person in touch with his “Inner Child,” that psychological concept made popular back in the 80’s. Disney Corp to this day keeps churning out movies made of myth and magic that still draw millions of kids and families to the cinema. The hidden messages of most of these films turn on the part of our psyches that are strongly attuned to this level of our minds. Little kids love stories of fantasy and magic in their story books. That’s because that is how their level of mind operates. They believe in Santa Claus until age 8 or 9. Pete in this movie goes from age 3 to 9. That is not a coincidence.
I just saw Disney’s latest, “Pete’s Dragon.” It main characters are a 9 year old boy who survives in a deep forest with the help of a friendly green dragon of immense proportions. Both parties to this story have lost family. It reminds me of how we can lose touch with our ‘Inner Child’ and consequently an important part of ourselves, often a part that begs for recognition, awareness and healing
Dragons (in Jungian interpretation) are interpreted differently in the East and West. A modern integral interpretation requires a balance of the two. In a larger perspective the Dragon is our subconscious. The West through Christianity sees it often as a threat, making us a victims of it in need of a Savior. Not exactly. The Savior is us, is me, myself and I, and in a collective way also in the esoteric or inner realm of spirituality we may share in sundry groups to which we belong. We may see this or not.
The East sees the subconscious more as a challenge to befriend, to bring order out of chaos or confusion, and peace out of our fears. We can tame the Dragon, or ‘shrink it down to size’ that is manageable and helpful to our growth and development. Because it lives at the mind level of myth and magic by its mythic enormous power. Positively it represents both the power of enlightenment or negatively the danger of the Shadow. It is both; it is our subconscious wanting integration into the child who can grow up knowing it and respecting its power and loving it. Eschew it in ignorant fear or embrace it in understanding empathy. Cherish and protect the inner child but grow out of its perspective, move on into the higher perspectives and the higher consciousness of adulthood.
The Dragon as subconscious you might say is always with us. We may choose to grow to use its power to learn from and about it. Or by denial and projection, we can attempt to destroy it. Too typically the masculine cognitive wants to destroy while the feminine compassion seeks to embrace it, live with it.
These are the characters in the movie, The story of bringing its dangers and marvelous properties into balance, the wise old man, the two brothers who conflict over it, the compassionate nature woman, and a little girl sister who excepts it’s reality. The alien local culture finally accept it as part of their group consciousness also. The Inner Child may demand it, as in the drama of the story in this movie.
Spiritually the picture, the myth, of the Dragon is a period of time, a phase of life. in myth combined with magic it is a stage of development. We see this clearly in the book the little boy brings with him into the forest, the place of soul, nature. Traditional Religion has a strong element of this child like worldview. It serves it’s purpose but it begs to transcend itself. This is done by including myth and magic, the Dragon, in its proper place, time, purpose, helpfulness or hindrance.
Pete includes but transcends his forest existence when he discovers his human roots I’m the balanced nuclear family and the dragon returns to its family, it’s realm where it belongs. They have rescued or saved each other by cohabitating for a time, then knowing what they know of each other moving on by living with each other in their respective souls. The human has his kind, the animal has his, in the mix in this case of the flying gigantic intelligent Elliot, as the writers portray him, mostly canine and a furry warm mammalian type.
The movie does a decent job of portraying these elements in its story. The storyline follows the challenge of recognizing good and evil, the choice between the two, and how to grow up accordingly. The boy awakens to this with the help of the feminine mother figure, excepting her nurture, to grow into his masculine identity, knowing that force and resistance is futile and ignorant. Enlightenment is always the embrace of those truths, the subconscious exists. Recognize it’s reality, except it’s power, listen to his messages, and do not deny it’s a fierce right to existence, the same as yours, the ability to live, grow, wake up, and clean up your dirty bits, your shadow.
Childhood can be a forest. Remember the boy would not have survived without his subconscious but it is only for a time until he grows into and realizes his larger growing identity and destiny. Humans are creatures of great and long development. Enlightenment and transcendence can be their fate if they recognize the power of the Dragon, the power of the subconscious, and embrace both it’s danger and it’s goodness.
Walt would be pleased with this simple but powerful story. The movie is the latest Disney hit.
This coach applauds the movie and works with Dragons who live with the ‘Inner Child.’