This is the fourth post in an installment entitled Reflections on the stairway to heaven. Where I have been highlighting my interpretation of the song as a spiritual Holy Grail. Using correspondences from esoteric studies, I have found a wealth of information in this Rock and Roll classic. If you are just joining me, you may find it helpful to review my previous posts in the installment, which begin here.
If you have come back to review verse 4 with me, welcome back! Happy to have you! I know this is deep material. I am attempting to be thorough without overwhelming you, as this is the first post of its kind on this blog and I want to give you as much esoteric background as I can, without being overwhelming. I also don’t want to insult the intelligence of anyone who is already well versed in esoteric principals. It is a find balance, so, your feedback is important to me, so I can tailor these posts moving forward.
Today, we are reviewing Verse 4 on the stairway to heaven, in the stairway to heaven song. Once again, we have 22 notes in this verse.
We learned yesterday, When we take “The Word” Literally, it can be confusing and often have more than one meaning. Religious texts from all major World Religions are rich in symbols, the interpretation though can be tricky and confusing.
In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving
Our lady has come across a songbird in a tree by a brook.
Does any of this conjure symbols for you?
Let us first start by consulting our trusty Dictionary of the Sacred Languages of All Scriptures and Myths for a few of these terms.
Tree- A symbol of man, or the human being on all planes, as a replica in small, of the Divine Being in whose image man is made. As God is a Tree of life, so man is the same.
Tree of Life – A symbol of the Divine Life, which spreads through the universe and soul, and produces all forms and activities on all planes of manifestation.
The fourth step is associated with the Anahata or Heart Chakra. Its element is Air.
Gaskell’s further references Swedenborg
BY a tree is signified man, and therefore by all things appertaining to a tree, corresponding things in man are signified as by branches, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds.
By branches are signified the sensual and natural truths in man (2nd chakra)
By leaves his rational truth (Monkey mind, the fool)
By flowers, primitive spiritual truths in the rational mind (symbols, DNA, Intuition and Wisdom that come to us through the body, and therefore associated with the 1st chakra)
By fruits, the goods and love and charity (4th chakra)
By seeds the last and first principles of man (The magician, the alpha and omega, the end product, all-encompassing everything else)
Now we have a tree, as the representation of man in his finest form, the tree of Life. Our tree grows by the brook. Here again we have water which is associated with the second chakra, feelings and creativity. So we as humans must evolve beside our feelings, not in them. In occult lore, the tree of life grows on the sea in the west. (Keep this in mind as we will go west tomorrow).
Remember, according to Gaskell’s
Water- The great symbol of Truth or the eternal Reality and Source of unity, absence of parts, comprehensiveness, purity, motion.
Water moves, feelings move through us, we can allow them to flow through us without being attached to them.
But remember, we are on the 4th Chakra now, so we are very specifically dealing with the greatest of emotions, Love, hence the Heart Chakra. The heart, associated with Love is a vital organ, like water, it sustains life. It quite literally is responsible for keeping our blood “flowing.”
I like this vector image above, because it makes me think of the tree of life in the heart, pumping oxygen to its roots, which in this photo, remind me of the lungs. The element of the heart chakra is air. The heart provides oxygen to the lungs. It is life sustaining.
So, now we know the journey on the stairway to heaven includes our sensory experiences and DNA wisdom, our feelings, creativity, and the will power or the ability to control the monkey brain.
On the 4th step, we have conjured images of the tree of life, air and water and love.
Let’s consult Gaskell’s quickly.
Love – The uniter of All, the symbol of the attraction towards the within instead of the without
We are bringing love into the conversation, because we have associated the 4th chakra with love. It is where we integrate all the knowledge received from the 3 lower steps on the stairway. Love is the alpha and Omega, the complete integration of all that is and ever was. (Refer to the definition of the Tree)
All of this information is jam packed in just the first few words of this verse!
But, wait! There’s more!
We have not only encountered here the life sustaining Tree of Life and the Waters of our emotions (Tree and Brook) we have also encountered a song bird.
Let us go back to Gaskell’s
Birds (Lower aspect) Symbolic of ambition, pride, vanity and exaltation of the personality. These affections multiply themselves and bind the soul to the lower planes of existence.
Bird’s Nest – A symbol of the buddhic plane (Heaven) in which aspirations (Birds) lodge, and in which are reared their progeny-the higher emotions
And Gaskell’s further references the Zohar
Bird is a Hebrew term for Angel, the Bird’s nest, Heaven
And Matthew xiii 32
Birds of the heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof
So, here we have two meanings, a bird in the lower self indicates EGO Desires, while a bird in the higher sense indicates something more of a divine messenger.
How interesting then, that we have already recognized the ability of words to be duplicitous. We have already learned that the magician of tarot tradition, encompasses everything, including the fool.
Our song reminds us again of these facts, “Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven”
So which is our songbird? Is he singing all-encompassing wisdom of the magician, or is he singing the ego-driven song of the fool?
Once again, I am reminded her of our 7 deadly sins and our 7 virtues. Are the seeds of your tree virtuous or are they ego driven. Logos or Ego? Since we are on the 4th chakra, the heart chakra, there is no doubt which of the paths we are intended to be on, regardless of your religious tradition, I believe we can all agree on the intent of this lesson.
Before we move on, I have one more quote from Gaskell’s to share as you reflect on this idea.
The Messiah signifies the Christ-Soul, or indwelling Self, Not yet perfect in expression, but to be made so through the instrumentality of the evolving higher qualities (the righteous). When perfection is attained then, the Christ consciousness rises to the buddhic plane (Eden), or the bosom of God – the nest of the great sun-bird, the eternal self of all, the nest of Brahman, over which he broods
If you have been with me for all four installments thus far, we can see a powerful story evolving. A study of this song and all of its hidden symbols, can be a journey in itself. Like studying yoga, chakras, theology, there are layers upon layers of knowledge if you look deep enough. It is in this way, music has been my holy grail. In studying the music of all my favorite artists, I have found a hidden, common theme, which resonates with my spirit. Like the North Star, it has enticed me to follow her mysteries deeper and deeper to a point I now feel a calling to share the wisdom I have found. It has all come full circle and yet each time I look, my musical muse reveals even more inside her beautiful harmonies.
Let’s get back to the song. We are on Verse 4. We have conjured the symbols of water, air, the tree of life and all their esoteric correspondences. We have a bird, and birds can have more than one meaning, they can symbolize either side of the coin. Birds can symbolize everything and anything associated with our Ego-driven existence. But, they can also signify the opposite, the birds of heaven, divine intuition, higher emotions, of which we have the ultimate emotion, love. Since we are on the 4th step, 4th chakra, we can be assured the message here is one of Love, associated with the higher chakra.
Our bird is not just any bird though, it is a song bird
Let us go back to Gaskell’s one more time to see what this clue might give us
Song – A symbol of aspiration through harmonizing of the qualities, and raising of the mind towards wisdom and love.
Therefore our songbird in the tree of life, by the brook of our emotions is to be associated with the higher aspect of the bird. The Angelic messenger.
Just to be sure, let us check Gaskell’s for one more word
Music or Melody – A symbol of order and harmony on the buddhic plane, where there is perfect adaptation of each part of the whole
I feel pretty confident now, in saying our song bird is angelic, and she is the voice of the heart (4th chakra) and the integration of all the parts. She is singing to us the song of the heart, the song of the soul, raising our ego-driven selves towards thoughts of higher wisdom and love. She is singing us a song
“Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.”
She has reminded us here that our thoughts (the monkey mind) are not all there is. Our thoughts are Ego driven. We are reminded once again on this 4th step to put the monkey mind aside and allow the wisdom of all to flow through us.
It is in the 4th chakra where we integrate everything, all of it, the feelings, the monkey mind, the DNA, the sensory perceptions, thoughts, memories, intuition. The Alpha and Omega, it is where it all comes together, before elevating to the higher planes.
We have one more piece to look at here in this verse, Robert Plant adds to this 4th verse
Ooh, it makes me wonder
This is an important addition, because when we study the Tree of Life in terms of the path to liberation and eternal life, wonder is the beginning of wisdom and rebirth.
Words are part of the human plane only, not part of divine correspondence. In my Reflections on A Course in Miracles Series, I have gone to great lengths establishing the fact that Divine communication comes in symbols. Words and thoughts are not divine. They are the Ego, monkey mind. In the higher planes, communication comes through symbols. Symbols are everywhere and this is why I study the esoteric meanings, to garner an understanding of the symbols.
When one starts to wonder, to be curious, to make play of their work, they no longer allow the monkey mind to discern what is real and what is false.
To demonstrate this idea, I will outline a few of my personal experiences.
I was raised in a middle-class American Neighborhood on the east coast. My family of origin was one of very conservative, working class, Roman Catholic values. I grew up believing in a loving and cruel God, who would punish me for my mistakes. I once prayed for days on end, in fear of ending up in hell because I accidentally ate a hot dog on a Friday, during Lent. I bring up this experience because it was the spark of wonder created all of those years ago, that likely gave me the will to seek answers that may be contrary to what I was taught to believe.
I could not understand a loving God who would resort to burning me in hell for all of eternity if I made a mistake. I clearly saw in those around me the hypocrisy of attending Church on Sunday, confessing all of their sins to the Priest, receiving the body of Christ and then on Monday morning they were back to sinning the same sins again. It just did not make sense to me. This is just a small example of all the questions my religious upbringing left unanswered.
While my parents sent me to Catholic School, they were Holiday Christians, meaning we only attended Church for the big stuff, like Christmas and Easter. Sometimes, on Monday Morning, the Nuns would give me a hard time, because they didn’t notice me at Sunday Service. I remember one particular day, I was in 6th grade perhaps, when one of my teachers (a nun) would not stop hammering me about why I didn’t attend Church the day before. To which I replied, “Why don’t you ask my mom, I don’t have a driver’s license.” That comment landed me in detention. How dare I speak like this? I wasn’t finished yet however, “If God is everywhere, why do I need to be at church to talk to him?” I still have scars on my pinky finger from the lesson she taught me that day with her wooden ruler.
This from a religion that labeled me a bastard because my parents were not married before my conception.
Needless to say, the religion of my upbringing left me more questions than answers and a bad taste in my mouth. I left home at 18 and joined the military.
22 years in the military was a vast laboratory of experiences. I was introduced to many people from various backgrounds, from all over the world. Naturally curious, I often asked about their religious beliefs. I was curious.
For most of my adult life, I have considered myself agnostic. Not really believing in the God of my upbringing, but the messages of hell well implanted in my young malleable brain, I was not willing to say the word atheist, just in case!
But, I was curious! My soul ached for a home. The Catholic Church was not it. Truthfully, I found more wisdom in the 12 step program of Ala-teen than I did in all those hard to understand biblical stories. I did not necessarily want to be at church, but agnostic was so unsettling, I felt like I was not taking a stand one way or another. I searched and searched, reading about religion, psychology, philosophy, maybe, I was a stoic!
All of this story is to point out the idea of wonder. When we are children, we are naturally curious. We have few expectations, mostly we just want to drink it all in, take in as much knowledge and experience as possible. It is not enough that our mother tells us the stove is hot, we have to touch the pretty red burner with our own hands, to determine a definition of the word hot.
It is with this sense of wonder we must approach the esoteric. We must be open minded enough to get past all the BS Flags that monkey mind is going to throw our way. There cannot be more than one God that is ridiculous! Or is it? If we begin looking at the esoteric and even Traditional Religious teachings, in terms of the symbols and stories, the morals behind that we start to see the thread that binds them all together.
Once our formative years are over, the mind, for the most part sort of thinks it already knows everything. This amazing super computer is efficient, remember, it categorizes everything. Like files on a computer, monkey mind determines, based on all the information it has gathered from all the previously mentioned sources what the folder categories are going to be. Bird for example, probably filed away as an animal, or something that flies. But, when we go back to the days when languages were formed and we identify the intent of the word, when it was first formulated, we see that over centuries, words start taking on a form of their own and sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to find out what the original intention was. It is for this reason many philosophy majors are required to at least read a second language, so as to ensure they understand the original meaning of the words they study.
If you just see a song bird in a song, if you have not activated the link between the symbol and its original intent, monkey brain does not know to look in another folder. It looks at bird, says, yep a bird is a bird is a bird.
When we approach the unknown with a sense of wonder, however, we sort of ask the monkey brain to step aside and let all your intuitive faculties come in to examine it. We touch the hot stove with our own hand and then we know what she means when she says hot. (That is until we hear someone else use the word “hot” to mean something entirely different)
So, if the analysis as I have outlined it resonates with you spiritually, perhaps you have already encountered something in your own personal experiences. If not, however, please, continue with me as we move onto the three higher chakras, with a sense of wonder.
Wonder is the opening in the door to wisdom.
Does it make you wonder?
Part 5 is available here