Stairway to Heaven and an anonymous interpretation
The below interpretation is not mine. I’ve just copy pasted it from the net. The original page is no longer on the internet.
Interpretation of Stairway to Heaven lyrics
There’s a Lady who’s sure,
The Lady is not, contrary to popular belief, Miss Shirley Bassey (a reference to Leonard Teale on the Australian Stairways to Heaven CD)! She is that universal quality of spirit that leads us towards enlightenment, salvation, self-realisation, God – whatever you like to call it or see the goal as. In Norse mythology she was Frigg, also known as Isis, Mary, The Mother, Mother Nature, Diana, Aphrodite, etc. Being universal, she is an aspect in each and every one of us (and everything else in creation). She is the subject of STH. Plant referred to “the lady who’s sure” in future songs (eg Liars Dance) when making a reference to Stairway to Heaven (in the context of Liars Dance it was to do with greed – being approached by agents wanting him to perform Stairway to Heaven again, not to promote the message of love and peace and spiritual aspirations as in Tie Dye on the Highway, but simply for the money to be made from a reunion concert).
All that glitters is gold,
Hope, optimism. The commonly quoted saying is “all that glitters [glisters] is not gold” – ie things that on the surface may appear to have great value, may in fact be worthless. That is cynicism or pessimism. In contrast, the Lady sees good in all things; pure unconditional love – that even the smallest spark of light in each of us has the potential to grow (and “everything that’s small has to grow – and its all growin’” – The Song Remains the Same) and reach the goal.
And she’s buying a Stairway to Heaven.
Investing effort towards spiritual realisation. The word “buying” refers to effort – it will not simply happen by itself. Liberation has to be bought.
When she gets there she knows,
If the stores are all closed,
With a word she can get what she came for.
This expresses the certainty of the achievement of the goal, which will bring freedom, access to everything, immortality, eternal bliss. At that time she can have whatever she wants by asking – it is hers anyway. So this first verse has stated that the Lady is committed to the path of enlightenment and is sure of the benefits upon achieving the goal.
There’s a sign on the wall,
But she wants to be sure,
’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
Yet she is also cautious. There are signs / symbols / pointers along the way. Christianity refers to the devil or Satan. In Indian mythology the word is Maya – illusion. On any spiritual path the student is told to be wary of things that will take them off the path (this doesn’t necessarily lead to eternity in hell, it just delays progress). There are desires relating to the physical body and earthly pleasures, and there are aspirations of the soul.
In a tree by the brook
There’s a song bird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
There is interesting imagery in these lyrics. The tree in Norse mythology is Yggdrasil, a connection between hell at its roots and heaven at the topmost branches. The Tree of Life also occurs in the bible and ancient Kabbalah teachings. In most contexts it represents a connection between all things in the universe. A brook in Tarot usually represents the flow of desires. In Hindu mythology the analogy of the bird in the tree is to the higher self or soul that watches the lower self struggle with earthly desires. Misgiven thoughts are fears and doubts. The sense of these lines is that there is a part of us that is always watching. The heart is strong but the flesh is weak. The doubts and fears of the lower mind is holding us back and preventing us from making progress. However, throughout history there have been great men, teachings, works of art pointing to a better way, and the little “bird” inside us reminds us of this.
There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
This is Plant talking, and he also speaks for many of us. The “west” refers to the greed, capitalism and technology of western civilization (The “east” is the spiritual way of love and compassion and enlightenment of the soul). He doesn’t like what he sees, and wants to take a different path.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking.
In his mind he is aware of the ancestors, those who have gone before and are further down the path. These are the great teachers and masters through the ages who are there to help spiritual aspirants.
And it’s whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.
The piper alludes to the Pied Piper (of Hamelin), imagery for an inner calling that seems to pull us along. In western occultism, once a student has begun upon the path the next phase is known as “the pull of the way”. You are on the path, and in time it will lead you to happiness. The forests echoing with laughter suggests that those watching through the trees (previous verse) will rejoice when the rest of us catch up and join them.
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow,
Don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.
This has nothing to do with young girls reaching puberty! Plant has said himself that this is imagery for hope, new growth. The changes in spring time herald the death of winter and a fresh start all around.
Yes there are two paths you can go by,
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
A reminder that there are always two choices. The path of earthly pleasures (Christianity would say the lure of the devil), or the higher path of spiritual enlightenment. The choice is ours, it is made every moment of the day in everything we do, and anybody at any time in any place can change paths (hopefully from the lower to the higher, rather than vice-versa).
And it makes me wonder.
Plant ad-libs this several times between verses. The feeling of awe and wonder is like that of a young child seeing the world for the first time (as Jesus says in the Bible “Be ye like little children”). So large and marvelous No greed or wanting or grabbing. No fear or hatred. A desire to learn and understand and explore. In Hindu teachings the feeling of wonder arises in the state of Sattva (purity), as opposed to Rajas (activity) or Tamas (lethargy, ignorance).
Your head is humming and it won’t go,
In case you don’t know,
The Piper’s calling you to join him.
If you hadn’t noticed by now, listening to the song (Stairway to Heaven) is drawing you along the path of the Lady, towards enlightenment. The spiritual aspirant is being drawn along by the “pull of the way”. This is the revolution the Hippie movement was hoping for.
Dear Lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know,
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.
More very interesting imagery. In Norse mythology the previously mentioned tree, Yggdrasil, stands with its roots in hell (where there sits the dragon, an allegory for the kundalini energy at the base of the spine) and at the top of the tree in heaven is an Eagle. It is the Eagle flapping its wings that results in the wind – the wind being an analogy for the mind. There are two paths – you can follow that of the earthly desires, or you can listen to the inner mind and follow the path towards the Eagle. (Eagles are also mentioned in “Ten Years Gone” with references to the “one nest” which is in our souls). The Lady, Frigg, the wife of Odin (Chief of the Gods) knows this. The ancient mythology are not random stories; they were the means by which their sacred teachings were promulgated. Analogies for all these characters will be found in the human body and mind.
And as we wind on down the road,
Our shadows taller than our soul,
The shadows are the “sins” or negative aspects of the personality which taint the purity of the soul. On the road to enlightenment the shadows will reduce as we grow nearer the source of the light. If you have walked along paved streets at night that are lit by street lamps you will have noticed that there is no shadow when you are beneath a streetlight. As you move away from it a shadow develops which grows longer and longer, until you approach another light and it grows shorter and shorter and then disappears when you are underneath it. These lines acknowledge that we are not perfect.
There walks a lady we all know,
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold,
A reminder again of hope. The journey on the Stairway to Heaven is a long one. The Lady (Frigg, wife of Odin), the eternal aspect of the spirit that always leads the aspirant to the goal, is always there reminding us that there is purity of soul and in time it will increase. The analogy with the metal gold is that it is permanent, pure and remains untarnished. This is the ultimate aim of the soul.
And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last,
Tuning in to the alternative path. Call it what you want – the Hippie movement, the spiritual way – the opposite of war, greed, hatred, desire for control and domination, wealth, etc. Pretty well the exact opposite of the news items that come out of America each night.
When all are one and one is all,
To be a rock and not to roll.
Rock and Roll is the musical movement that evolved in the USA in the 1940’s and 50’s. There is a play on words here, because we are not talking about rock and roll music. To be a rock is also imagery for the ultimate achievement of the spiritual goal – principally referring to the mind (rather than the physical body), to be unmoved (unruffled Chitta) through any event or adversity.
And she’s buying a Stairway to Heaven.
A reiteration of the message of hope. The Lady is always there, creating the opportunity for all seekers to take the path of liberation.