Steps and stairways are used as symbols by virtually every culture on our planet. Even though on the surface the meaning is obvious, stairs are actually one of the archetypes and can get pretty complex - and revealing.

    Stairs naturally often point to your step-by-step progress - emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually - as you move through the normal ups and downs of your life. But they also represent your path and your skill at moving from one level to the next. In this context stairs share the symbolism of Ladder - which is a big one. Among other things, Ladders represent your potential to access Reality through your own effort, skill, and knowledge. Big?

    Going up or down stairs, believe it or not, is a strong sexual symbol in dreams. Gotcha! Any rhythmic movement in your dream can actually be a sexual symbol, right along with its other interpretations. Remember when we told you that sexual symbols don't always look like what you expect?

    Stairs symbolized the Power of Ascension to the ancients, the transcendence and movement into new levels of existence. This was especially true of stairs on sacred buildings and mountains. The number of steps you use to get to your goal also counts. For instance, in Ancient Egypt 9 was the preferred number, but in Mithraic culture only 7 were needed to reach the Self. (See Session 61 Parts 1-3 YOUR DREAM NUMBERS 8-10; YOUR DREAM NUMBERS PT 2; YOUR DREAM NUMBERS: 0-4 if you're curious about numbers in your dreams.)

    And stairs often were symbols for other symbols - like mountains, rainbows, trees, ladders, even ropes. Symbols within symbols are a great way to communicate large concepts all in one tidy image. Steps are commonly used in myths in just this way, showing the power of the hero to break through and open the way for communication between worlds.

    So what steps are you about to take? What were your dream stairs made of? Where did they lead? From where did they begin? What was their condition? Are they cluttered? Was climbing them easy, difficult, uncomfortable? How much energy did it take? How long?

INDIVIDUAL STEPS - frequently symbolize your ability to break through various levels, your attainment of a goal, and the stages of personal development.

LEADING UNDERGROUND - ancient symbols for the ability to break through the barriers of the Underworld, the Unconscious. It was common to name each step, and this is just one clue the ancients left for the levels to be mastered in order to reach the ultimate goal.

SPIRAL STAIRS - frequently used to represent the spiral movement of the stars, sun, moon; the continuity in your own spiral progression; the Veil of The Great Mother; storms; fertility; the many dimensions of existence; and the wanderings of the Soul with its ultimate return to its Source or Center. Spiral stairs also represent the mysterious, the unknown, and the conscious exploration of what you are moving toward - what is at the end of your spiral stairs.

STAIRWELL AND LANDING - often symbolizes you have reached a plateau, a place to rest for a short time before you continue your climb. They are in a temporary place of safety, a place to think about whether you want to go forward, stay where you are, or go back to where you were. How did you feel on that landing? What came before it? What is above it?

    See you next week. In the meantime, keep looking up and stepping proud....

[Excerpted in part from Letters From Home: A Guide to Symbols - Awake or Dreaming available from Amazon at and at your favorite neighborhood bookshop.]

Copyright 2012 Patricia Troyer
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You may copy and distribute this article as long as you don't charge for it, don't change it in any way, give credit to the author (me), ande include this copyright notice. And thanks.

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