Reflections on the Stairway to Heaven

Photo taken on the Haiku Stairs on Oahu, also referred to as the Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven is considered by many to be one of the greatest songs of the rock era, many critics agree, Stairway to Heaven may very well be the greatest song of an era. I always find it interesting, if not sad, that Robert Plant himself, say some reports doesn’t actually like this song, or it’s not his favorite, or however the story goes. There has even been some legal controversy over the song in recent years.

No matter, for me, the song has always meant something. Something deep in my soul responds to the song…  Even as a young girl, I have always loved this song, it resonated somewhere deep for me. While my daddy was playing Elvis, I was rockin’ out to Zeppelin and the Eagles and Steve Miller Band.

Without explanation, this song has always meant something deep to me, it just was what it was. It was not until my late 40s, when I began a more spiritual journey that I came to realize or perhaps recognize the meaning behind the song, on a more esoteric level.

This theory is bold, but if you will humor me with some of time, allow me to show you what I have discovered. Since this is the first post like this for me, it will be a bit long, as I wish to include references.

(Note: this is a repost from another blog I write, I decided to pull this one back out and update it for a class I am currently taking.)

The song itself starts off slowly with acoustic instrumentation and gradually builds in 7 verses to and the energetic climax, as if on an upward journey. Which perfectly aligns our mental expectations to begin a journey on the stairway to heaven, as the title would indicate.

But, the important thought here, is the number 7.

According to G.A. Gaskell’s “A Dictionary of the Sacred Languages of All Scriptures and Myths”

Note: Gaskell’s is my reference for all materials in this post, unless otherwise noted. I have checked many, but not all of the source material referenced in this two volume set of highly valuable information. I check source materials, as they become relevant to my research and as some of these original texts are ancient, many of them are difficult to come by with my means.

Seven is the perfect number and signifies completion or consummation, it follows 6, which stands for completeness of a process. Applied chronologically, seven indicates the beginning and the ending of a cycle – “the alpha and the omega”

Referencing Gaskell’s again, Swedenborg tells us, “Numbers in the word signify things

This is an important concept to remember going forward. Hidden messages and symbols are everywhere!

The Bible mentions the number seven many times. Most Notably as the Sabbath.

On the Seventh day, the Lord rested from all his works

(The process of creation thereby complete).

Additionally Gaskell’s references Adams, AEONS (twelve), Evolution, Involution, Libra, Sabbath, Tuat, Zodiac

Seventh Hour of the Night of the Taut:

This symbolizes the first period of evolution, after the close of the six periods of involution.

Let us go back to that word Sabbath for a moment. According to Gaskell’s:

Sabbaths– a symbol of periodic states or conditions of the cosmic and soul life on the lower planes, or the higher

So, here again, we have a Sabbath at the end of a complete cycle.

Seven, is also the number of primary chakras in many Ancient as well as Various Modern practices in the East. These include Tantra, Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, Hinduism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Jainism, Ayurveda Medicine, New Age Medicine, various esoteric practices, which we will collectively refer to as energetic theories.

Without getting side tracked into talking about chakras, the important thing here is that they should be viewed as 7 primary energy centers in the body. As a meditation aid in Yogic tradition, the Yogi progresses from lower chakras to the highest, while internalizing the journey of spiritual ascent (Think of a staircase along the spine, each step represented by a chakra) Each chakra is a stepping stone towards higher consciousness, culminating in the crown chakra or Sahasrara, the highest spiritual center or state of pure consciousness (Nirvana, Heaven)

So now our Stairway to Heaven has 7 verses, 7 being a mystical or important number in many traditions. Perhaps this is a fantastic coincidence, as Robert Plant himself denies the esoteric meaning of his lyrics. But, let us continue our review.

Our Stairway to Heaven now takes us on a journey, progressing in tempo (Energy) and additional instrumentation through 7 stairs or verses.

Before we move on, let’s quickly see what Gaskell’s says about our Stairway:

Staircase, Stairs – A symbol of evolution from a lower to a higher state

Once again, we have more symbols, and we have not even yet gotten to the verse.

I am sure we all have our own vision of Heaven, be it here on earth or someplace we conceive of post mortem. Let’s just consult Gaskell’s one more time, before we move on

Heaven – A symbol of the state of consciousness on the buddhic plane which is above the mental state

Heaven and Earth – Symbols of Spirit and Matter- The life and the form sides of manifestation

Ok, let’s move on,

According to occult symbolism, there are 22 paths to heaven. Led Zeppelin cleverly composed this song with approx. 22 notes per verse (give or take).

22 is also the Number of Revelation. In the 22nd Chapter of John, he identifies himself as the Alpha and Omega which would be the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.

There are also 22 letters in the Hebrew Alphabet (which was composed to the Word of God).The kabbalah teaches that there are 22 paths between the Sephora and the Letters of the Hebrew alphabet are the building blocks of the universe.

In numerology, the number 22 is often called the Master Builder.

The number 22 is the gnostic key to revelation in the Bible, as revealed in Isaiah 22.22

I could go on… but I believe I have made my point about the number 22, the point is, if unintended, our approx. 22 notes per verse give us yet another mystical coincidence.


Let’s take a look at the first verse:

There’s a lady who’s sure

All that glitters is gold

And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Let us first consult Gaskell’s for any hidden meanings

Gold- A symbol of spiritual qualities of the buddhic plane. Divine Wisdom; celestial Truth. The endowments of the soul which are above he mental plane. The “treasures in Heaven”

In Revelations xxi 18, we find

“And the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass”

I would also like to highlight the use of the word lady here as the feminine principle here must be addressed. Let’s we consult Gaskell’s once again:

Feminine Principle– The passive and receptive aspect of the manifest duality. Space, Matter, and Wisdom (Buddhi) have this feminine aspect and are symbolized by the great Goddesses in all the polytheistic religions. The present phase of evolution is directed from the buddhic plane which receives the transmuted results of experience and yields up the higher emotions (feminine) to the aspiring lower self-incarnate of the soul

I know, that is a lot to assimilate. Let’s just for the sake of this conversation, consider the feminine principle to be associate with Wisdom, which is a deep inner knowing or intuition. Once again, let’s quickly consult Gaskell’s

Wisdom (Feminine) is a symbol of the principle of buddhi, or the intuitive and transmuting activities of the buddhic plane, operating through higher mind and upon the lower nature.

The very first line; a lady who’s sure, sounds to me like Wisdom or Intuition

There’s a lady who’s sure (Intuition)
All that glitters is gold (Wisdom, Enlightenment)
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

In Alchemy, turning Lead into gold is symbolic of the quest for enlightenment.

In the first chakra, we are fools, materialistic in nature, without wisdom or true values.

In Tarot, we have first, the Fool who does not know the way to enlightenment but partakes in a personal journey to get there.

The Arcanum, “The Fool” according to Meditations on the Tarot, (A book written anonymously and published posthumously in 1980), Teaches us transcendental consciousness and it warns of its peril.

Indeed, we know that with great Wisdom comes great responsibility and the perils of ignoring this warning are in every single epic story ever told, be it a Historical, Literary, or Hollywood Reference.

As materialistic fools on the Hero’s Journey, we believe that we can buy our way into heaven. Greed is where we start on the Journey to enlightenment.

So now, we find ourselves seeking Wisdom and Enlightenment on a journey to find it on our Stairway to Heaven.

All that Glitters is Gold, could have a dual meaning here, for in alchemy, we turn led into gold, but as the fool, we can be attracted to the Glitter on the way. (Think 7 deadly sins) For as we begin our Journey towards recognizing our own power, we are each tempted along the way. (The story of Star Wars is such a Powerful example of the forces of Good and Evil and the temptations each of us face on our Hero’s Journey)

The Magician, in Tarot tradition is the Alpha and the Omega, the Magician has mastered all of the energy systems, he is the culmination of the journey, the soul that has mastered his manifestation on earth. He has mastered the four directions and represents the culmination of all the other parts of the journey. He is Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses. He represents the mastery of self in the body. The integration of Body-Mind-Spirit-Soul. He represents Heaven on Earth. He represents all of the great Masters.

Let us consult Meditations on the Tarot on the Magician

To perceive and to know, to try and be able to are all different things. There are mirages above as there are mirages below; you only know that which is verified by the agreement of all forms of experience in its totality- experiences of the senses, moral experiences, psychic experience, the collective experience of other seekers for truth, and finally the experience of those whose knowing merits the title of wisdom and whose striving has been crowned by the title of Saint. Academia and the Church stipulate methodical and moral conditions for one who desires to progress. Carry them out strictly, before and after each flight into the region beyond the domain of work and effort. If you do this, you will be a sage and a mage. If you do not do this- you will only be a charlatan!

I know some of this is deep stuff, so let me break it down for you, having read the entire chapter. The author invites us to think of the Major Arcana of the Tarot as authentic symbols. They conceal and reveals their sense at one and the same time. Since the Magician is the culmination of all the Arcanum or the “Arcanum of Arcana” he reveals that which is necessary to be known and to will in order to enter the school of the mysteries. (In this case, the Tarot) He reveals to us

Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light

Regardless of which Religious Master you choose as your beckon of hope, their teachings reveal all of what is revealed above by the Magician. Even Pop Psychology and Culture itself is finally catching on to the idea of meditation or prayer (concentration without effort), making work out of your passion, and letting go of all the shit we carry around with us (confession any one?) We all need to get out of our heads (Monkey brains) in order to let intuition (wisdom) and creativity come forth. We need to be like water, as Bruce Lee tells us and allow the feelings to flow through us without attaching to them (or grasping, says Buddha) In order to do this, we must control the ego, once we control the ego, we are free to experience life without attaching ourselves to any experience, every yolk becomes light.

All of the great masters tell us these things, in various ways, with lots of colorful language. Many of us are easily distracted by life, so the universal wisdom designed many ways to enlighten us. (22 perhaps?)

I am making some subtle and some not so subtle references to various artistic, religious and philosophical works because I believe within them all lies the same message. Music has been my holy grail, but once you open the door, you start to see the story unfolding in everything that has been passed down through history.

In Tarot, the magician is also associated with the first chakra and represents the bridge between the spirit world and humanity. Historically, the image of the magician has been associated with commerce; “With a word,” the magician can get people to part with their money.

The Magician is also associated with the number one, the number for beginnings. This is we find the first step on our journey on the Stairway to heaven.

Wisdom comes through intuition. We cannot get true wisdom from any false source. There is no other way to get there than to take the path yourself, the Hero’s Journey, the Vision Quest. Each of us a fool on our own journey of spiritual unfoldment. Once you get a glimpse of true wisdom, of all that encompasses Heaven on Earth it becomes a call to action. You are driven to seek more answers, by a force greater than yourself and your work becomes your passion. The truth is so awesome and so powerful and so outside of the realm of our current human mind’s capacity to understand (Opening Pandora’s Box truly does blow your mind) one trying to describe merely the glimpse they have seen can only do so with symbols, metaphors, analogy – these are just seeds, clues, if you will, because the Truth of our own power is so great, most of us truly have no idea how much we don’t even begin to know.

Through meditation, (or prayer) we learn to still our mind (the over thinking, over criticizing, over judgmental, over analytical mind) we learn to relax our mind, which allows us to be present in the moment. When we stop the endless commentary we change our polarity.

In one polarity, (associated with masculine energy) we are great projectors, always creating ideas in our minds and projecting our wants and desires onto the world through our actions and words. Whether we realize it or not, we do manifest our own future. We do not have control of all of our circumstances, because we are co-creating alongside of everyone else who came before us and creates with us, against us, and everywhere in between.

When we meditate, we change our polarity, we become receivers (feminine energy) with a quiet mind, free of the ego’s endless commentary, and we are free to receive true Wisdom. Wisdom, as we have learned is intuition. It is that sense of knowing that comes without proof. It is the integration of our own personal experiences, knowledge, sensory experiences, and perhaps even all the experiences that comes to us through our 22 pairs of DNA. (There is that number again) Wisdom is the integration of everything. It also includes the collective consciousness. Think of it like this, we are all co-creating, we are all manifesting our own experiences on our own journey, but none of us lives in a vacuum. We have to weave our experiences alongside everyone else on the planet.

If you believe in God, this is what we call his divine plan, the great tapestry of how each and every soul’s experience weaves itself together to form a whole of our planetary existence. Divine creation, the divine plan, whichever dogma you consider, not one of us is a solo existence and therefore, there is always something outside of our control. A Master plan of everyone’s co-created experience.

When we meditate, we catch glimpses of this divine blue print and begin receiving wisdom in the form of intuition and a deep knowing, or understanding that is beyond words. It is my contention that many artists and masters alike have left seeds; pieces of the puzzle of our existence, if we only stop long enough and stop our monkey brains off long enough to allow ourselves to receive a glimpse of the vast greatness that is the truth, or Wisdom or Heaven on Earth. Even when you do glimpse it, you find that you must constantly wrestling with the ego to catch another glimpse of her (wisdom) beauty.

Yoda tells us that difference between a master and a beginner is that the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

I say this so that we do not think of the mind as the enemy. The mind is a most valuable resource, for the mind facilitates integration of all these sources. The mind extrapolates the sensory data it receives, along with the data received along the body’s super information highway, or spinal cord, where it collects information on your health, your respiration, your diet, your air quality, temperature etc. It constantly collects and assimilates tons of information, truly a marvel of a super computer. It assimilates all of this information with all of the information collected by your senses, and all of the information contained within our DNA, all the memories, smells, sights, sounds associated with every part of any and all existence in our DNA is contained in the nucleus of each cell. All of this information is collected and stored and sorted and referenced constantly.

But, like I said, most of us don’t even know what we don’t know and we are too distracted with all the glittery stuff that distracts us from examining what the great masters have laid out for us. The entire idea point in our embodiment on earth is to experience all that life on planet earth has to offer. Spirituality, or Religion for that matter becomes a practice, an active state of balancing our own creative efforts (ego driven) with the wisdom that comes from recognizing that we are all part of the whole and each of us plays a part in the tapestry of creation. Through experience we gain enlightenment. More of the correspondences come to light, the symbols become living, breathing steps on the path to enlightenment, regardless if your path is through religion, yoga, martial arts, arts, history, science or math, the messages of the greatest masters all tell us the same things if we look closely.

We must each set out on our own adventure. We must each face our own demons and fears, we must each chase our own dream, or not. We each have a choice. We each then become fools on the journey, not even knowing or understanding what we don’t know. Each of us on a quest, to be all that we can be on this journey. Some of us choose comfort over work. Some of us fail and fail again and never give up hope. Each of us a magician in our own right, but first, we must master all of our fears and demons and ego and emotions. We must not grasp onto things, or allow emotional attachments to clog up the flow of information. We are all energetic beings. When we grasp too much to our material existence, we leave no room for our spiritual, energetic selves to commune on the higher planes of existence.

This is why all traditions pray, they teach us to focus on something in order to stop thinking, so that we can hear the voice of God, so that true wisdom has a chance to send her current through us.

The union of the Father-Son and Holy Spirit is nothing more than the integration of our body (son- this is where we find our sensory experiences) – Mind (Father) (Where we integrate all of the experiences) and Spirit (energetic body, where we get our Wisdom), Our souls, the integration of all three, the union of all, the inclusion of everything else; are eternal, regardless of which formal or esoteric dogma you follow.

As you can see, this tiny first verse whops a powerful punch of information, when you take a moment to consider how rich it is with ancient symbolism.

The inverse of the Magician in Tarot symbolizes deceit, lack of energy, dishonesty, ill intentions.  With this in mind, we come to understand that each step along the way, we have choices, we choose noble path or we can chose its opposite (think 7 deadly sins and 7 virtues) both paths lead up the same staircase.

As we learned already, when we get to the top of the stairway of heaven, to the pearly gates of heaven, if you will, the Masters of each of the great religions and ancient traditions has outlined for us the noble path. Having reached the gate without the Noble path, charlatans shall all be turned away. Guilt is not a light yolk to carry and therefore, the ignoble path allows only so much access to personal power.

The first chakra by the way is associate with earth or our physical identity. It is the manifestation of the Son in Christian faith, it is the energetic center of our earthly body. So the 1 or the first step, is about learning to be present in our body and to fully experience life here on earth.

And that ladies and gentlemen is just a small taste of all the hidden meanings and messages inside of Stairway to Heaven. Since this is a lengthy topic, I have decided to break it up into multiple posts. Tomorrow, I will analyze verse 2 of this epic masterpiece that is Stairway to Heaven.

I hope you are intrigued enough to follow along with me. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite songs? Do any of them make you feel spiritual? Have you ever looked at music like this before? I would love to hear from you, post your comments below.

You can read part 2 here

In this series I have quoted a few of my very favorite references. If you are interested in researching more for yourself, I highly recommend you grab your own copy.
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