|P is for Practical|
See perlguts.pod for more details about the [adp]THX_? macros, but basically, you're using a perl compiled for multiplicility/threading, and in those perls, most perl functions (including SvPV()) expect to take an extra first argument, called my_perl, which is a pointer to the current perl interpreter.
The idea is that on threaded perls, these macros typically expand as follows:
while on unthreaded perls they expand to null strings.
You typically declare any function as expecting an interpreter as the first arg:
and invoke it as
Normally your XS sub will have been passed a my_perl arg, and you can pass this on down the chain of called subs using aTHX/pTHX. In those cases where this isn't possible, dTHX can be used within the declaration section of a function to recreate my_perl 'on the fly', but it's expensive:
All the above assumes that PERL_NO_GET_CONTEXT is defined in your source. If it isn't then aTHX is redefined to directly compute the interpreter address, like dTHX. This means everything 'just works' without messing with aTHX/pTHX, but is slow. Since you were getting compilation errors about missing my_perl, I'm assuming you must have had PERL_NO_GET_CONTEXT defined.