If you ask a million people to give their interpretation of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, without collaboration, you will get a million different interpretations. And each and every one of them would be absolutely correct. Where you are spiritually, will determine how you interpret anything in life. Even if you don't consider yourself spiritual, everything you see, touch, hear, smell, taste, feel, etc. is responded to spiritually, to some degree or another. Again it just depends on where you are at spiritually as to how you respond and or interpret anything. When reading any kind of literature that contains metaphors, EVERYONE is going to interpret it differently. And this song is written almost entirely metaphorically. I interpreted this song with a Christian point of view, so this video may not work for you if you are not a Christian. On the other hand, it's a pretty powerful interpretation, and should be interesting regardless what religion you are. Also, I found it virtually impossible to convey this song visually without creating it as, what I call, a wide awake dream. So it will require a bit of thinking outside the box. It normally takes me 4-5 days max to create a classic rock ballad video, but a lot of research went into this monster and took nearly 2 months to complete. And so, here is my interpretation of Stairway To Heaven, I hope you enjoy it.
The video begins with a clip of the Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven thumbnail I created from a clip I put in the video that represents the verse "In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings, sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.". From there the next clip is a "lady" climbing a stairway made of stacked chairs, the only real significance with this clip, is that if you look closely, she is climbing the wrong stairway and losing the path behind her.
And now we begin our journey.
"There's a lady who's sure, all that glitters is gold. And she's buying the stairway to Heaven"
There's a suggestion in this opening line that the "lady" is misguided, because all that glitters is NOT gold.
The 12th century French theologian Alain de Lille wrote "Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold".
I used an image of a golden serpent in the video not specifically to represent the love of gold and or wealth; (The root of all evil) But in my research of the meaning to these lyrics, I concluded that "gold" in this case, represents the seven deadly sins, (lust, greed gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride). Unrealized by the "lady" in her misguided sense of entitlement.
I chose 1 Timothy 6:9 -10 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics. (Verse 11 is added here, but comes more into play further into the song.)
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
"When she gets there she knows, if the stores all are closed, with a word she can get what she came for"
More clarification of her misguided sense of entitlement. This is pointing out the irony of they way she is leading her life. What is she going to do with the material things if that is all she has in her life?
I chose the doors ("stores") closing leaving her in darkness holding her "gold", to represent Heaven is not selling tickets for admission. Hence the money she is pouring up to heaven. Admission is a free gift from God, But the doors won't open until you get rid of that suitcase full of unGodly passions. There is a little more to it which comes in later, but for now this needs to be her first epiphany.
I chose Acts 8:20 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!"
"There's a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure, 'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings"
This line wasn't too tough for me to decipher. The pastor at the Church I attend recently finished a study on the book of Daniel. This is an elymology based on a story in the Bible about Daniel who reads the handwriting on the wall that
the end of Babylon.
An elymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. The "sign on the wall" is the Bible. And acting on her epiphany, the "lady" starts reading the Bible ("the sign on the wall"). But the Bible itself also written largely of metaphors and or parables, she finds it difficult to understand. So she intensely begins to study "to be sure" as I tried to visually illustrate with the Bible pages rapidly turning. When she finally gets to the book of Revelation. And this is where she quite literally gets the hell scared out of her, or at least starts to have the hell scared out of her. As I learn further into the song, she still has difficulty letting go of her earthly pleasures, despite her fear of what Is to come . Revelation contains some very powerful motivation for someone having difficulties in releasing unGodly passions. And yet this "lady" knows now that her misguided sense of entitlement is worthless in buying the stairway to heaven.
I chose Mark 4: 11 - 12 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them."
"In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings, sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven."
This of course is another metaphor, but a fairly easy one to decipher "In a tree by the brook" simply refers to being alone with her thoughts, and that little voice she hears inside her ("there's a songbird who sings") is trying to tell her something. And now she has anotherepiphany that perhaps all she thought was right, was somehow misguided… If you have a water pipe leaking somewhere in the plumbing of your home, you don't turn off the valve at the facet and expect the leak to be fixed. You have to fix the problem at it's source… SO, how is her thoughts misguided or "misgiven". Well let's go find out.
I chose 1 John 4: 1-6 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and ithe spirit of error."
"Oh , it makes me wonder"
Not really much need to interpret this line YET, simply stating that she is rethinking her life, but we already knew that. But the line becomes more significant later, so let's move on.
"There's a feeling I get when I look to the west and my spirit is crying for leaving."
The fist part of this line took some thought and some searching to figure out what was going on here, when I found it, I thought to myself, "well crap" "OF COURSE!!".
Because the sun sets there, the west has been a metaphor for death since at least ancient Egyptian times. It was the second half of this line that screwed me up for days trying to tie it together. Why the hell would she have a feeling of wanting to die now, knowing that she hasn't found her ticket to Heaven yet? Well I was interpreting "crying for leaving" wrong. I was reading it as a plea "wanting" to leave. It wasn't til I realized that in this case "crying" literally meant crying, scared to death of dying now after she read the fate she faces in the book of Revelation. Tying the two together now simply translated to; She is scared of dying without knowing she will get into Heaven. There is one great fear common to all men, which is greater than all other fears. It is a fear which paralyzes men all of their lives. It is the fear of death. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of that fear in these words found in Hebrews 2:14-15 I chose as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives".
"In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
and the voices of those who stand looking."
"In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees" refers to a cloudy or clouded mind, and or sometimes referred to as brain fog. It causes a person to become confused and or unable to think clearly. "And the voices of those who stand looking" refers to a voice in her thoughts, but unlike the songbird in the tree from earlier in this song where she was alone by a brook with her own thoughts, the voices now are not from her own thoughts, but rather from "those who stand looking". the conclusion I came to in this verse. Is that God "sees" her ("those who stand looking") and knows her "confusion" ("smoke through the trees") and her struggle to "buy" her way into his Kingdom, and is simply saying to her. "I am here" I chose 2 Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics. Ezekiel 33: 11 and 2 Timothy 2: 13
"Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?"
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself."
"Oh , it makes me wonder"… "Oh , it really makes me wonder"
Now we are back to "makes me wonder" for the second of three times, and still not much need to interpret this line, we get it. However, NOW, "It REALLY makes me wonder" emphasizes a bit more significance. This little "predicament" she's in is weighing very heavy on her mind now. I chose Job 30: 27 as the Bible passage to summarize this often overlooked, but significant line.
"My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me."
"And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason."
Well now we start to get an inkling of where the source of the problem might be. This verse was fairly easy to interrupt. I broke it down like this; A "whisper" is defined as; using your breath to speak without using vocal chords, but here whisper is an analogy for Prayer (a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God}.
"Call" is defined as; a cry out. And the term "call the tune" or "sing a different tune" is an Idiom defined as; To change one's ways, attitude, behavior, etc; So… After she has given it a lot of serious thought as described in the line "It really makes me wonder"; the lady is now praying to God for help to change her ways of buying a stairway to Heaven.
Now enter Satan; We knew this bastard had something to do with this mess, and he was bound to show up sooner or later. "Then the piper will lead us to reason". I have read how many others have tried to interrupt this line as Christ or Christianity being the metaphor for the piper. I assume it's because "lead us to reason" is tripping them up. They don't associate Satan with leading us to reason, so they think it must be God, if he's "leading us to reason". But make no mistake the piper is most definitely Satan and he does indeed lead us to "HIS" reason .
So how do we clarify that the "piper" is indeed Satan? Well you probably couldn't if this was your first time hearing this song and or didn't know the lyrics. But later on the "piper" is mentioned again in the line "the piper's calling you to join him". Now you have a lot more information to work with in your research to find the identity of this mysterious piper.
If you look up the definition of "piper" in itself, is a traveling musician. And that doesn't work here without going way, WAY outside the box . BUT.. If you know the story of the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning it becomes much easier and fits perfectly without having to step outside the box. Now when you search for "Pied Piper" you find it defined as;
a person who induces others to follow or imitate him or her, especially by means of false or extravagant promises. Now search "Satan" and you will find it defined as; "A figure appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions who brings evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver who leads humanity astray.". Now again I say make no mistake, the piper is a metaphor for Satin, not God. So now to put this all together. The verse "And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason" . Can be translated to; If we pray to God for the truth, Satan will try to increase his misgiven reasoning by further deception, in an effort not to lose his stronghold on you. I chose 2 Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics;
Mark 13:5-6 And Mark 13:22
Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
For false Christ's and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
"And a new day will dawn, for those who stand long, and the Forrest will echo with laughter"
This is one of the most important lines in this song, the story could not be validated without this line. And is the reason why I suggested that my interpretation of these lyrics will be better accepted if you are of Christian faith. Because, "And a new day will dawn, for those who stand long" refers to being born again in Christ for those who remain faithful to God.
"A new day will dawn" is the polar opposite of the previously quoted line "when I look to the west". A new day will "dawn" from the east represents new birth, as opposed to the west that represents death. "stand long" or "long standing" (if your more comfortable with that term), means; abiding, enduring, persistent, established, etc;
'And the Forrest will echo with laughter" simple refers to an outpour of joy. Laughter is closely tied to joy because the feeling of joy can promote laughter. Webster defines joy as “a feeling of great happiness,” or “success in doing, finding or getting something.”
So this line interrupts to: "For those who remain abiding, enduring, persistent, established; on the day they are reborn into God, there will be great (a Forrest of) joy (laughter). I chose 2 Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics;
John 3: 4-8 And Psalm 30:5
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May Queen."
"If there's a bustle". "Bustle", is a or noise or activity, used in this sense, means a disturbance close to home. (Your comfort zone)
"in your hedgerow" A hedgerow is a hedge that surrounds many estates in Britain. And often placed on property lines. Your personal space, or your "comfort zone" as interpreted here.
So the line "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow" translates to; "Something's happening or changing in your world! "
"don't be alarmed now" No interpretation really needed here. "Alarmed" we know, simply means; afraid, frightened, or scared.
"It's just a spring clean" Spring cleaning is an old domestic ritual cleaning meant to do away with the troubles of the past year and prepare for the coming year, and often includes disposing of old, useless things that have been lying around.
"The May Queen" was a maiden chosen by a village to represent the hopes and potential for the coming year. She was a symbol of beauty, spring and new beginnings.
So the verse "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, It's just a spring clean for the May Queen".
Translates to; If you feel changes happening in your comfort zone, don't be afraid, it's just trying to clear out all the useless "gold" (sin) ( (lust, greed gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride) I chose 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
"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."
We are all familiar with this term, so I wont spend much time on it. Simply means that at any crossroads we face in our lives, whichever direction we choose, we can always turn back at any point. I chose Psalm 37:23-24 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand."
"Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know. The piper's calling you to join him."
"Your head is humming". "Humming" can be translated in many different ways, but it's used here as an intransitive verb. Your head or mind is humming or buzzing with thoughts, ideas etc, you cannot stop thinking about them.
"and it won't go". Something is stopping you from moving forward with a thought you can't stop thinking about.
"in case you don't know" is actually a sarcasm used here as "wake up fool" (so to speak)
"The piper's calling you to join him". As we determined earlier, the "piper" is Satan.. And when Satan senses that he may be losing he hold on you, his deceptions become much more intense as he cries out ('calling") for you to join him.
So, this verse translates to; You can't stop thinking about a life where gold ( lust, greed gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride) no longer control you, but you can't pursue it because you need to realize that Satan is Humming loud in your head to join him. I chose 2 Corinthians 4:4 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God"
"Dear lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know, your stairway lies on the whispering wind."
"Dear lady can you hear the wind blow" These words are a reminder of the spiritual birth, the necessity of which has been asserted in the previous verse "And a new day will dawn, for those who stand long".
The 'wind" is the voice of God.
your stairway lies on the whispering wind." This line explains that the ladies passage stairway) to Heaven, lies in the soft prayer (whisper) of God. God does not buzz your head and confuse you, and yell out to you as Satan (the piper) does as described in the previous verse.
So; "Dear lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know, your stairway lies on the whispering wind.". Translates to, Listen closely to God's word, because you may not know when he's speaking to you, as it is a soft gentle voice.
I chose John 3: 8 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
The bridge of a song generally is used to pause and reflect on the earlier portions of the song or to prepare the listener for the climax. Unlike a chorus, the bridge typically does not contain lyrics. So this is where I placed 7 very powerful clips in my video to visually convey why the book of Revelation quite literally "scared the hell" out of the "lady" (which, by the way, if you haven't caught it yet. The "lady" is a metaphor for you and I.)
The first clip at the start of the bridge is of the Seven Seals In the next clip I begin the visual images of Revelation as each seal is opened, starting with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (#1 White, #2 Red, #3 Black, #4 Pale). Moving on to the fifth seal, the souls of Martyrs under the Alter, then the sixth seal showing a great earthquake, black sun, and a red moon. (No I didn't forget the rest of this passage, It's just an 8 minute song, only so much room to fit a hell of a lot of information.) Then the seventh seal, Heaven is silent for a half hour, and the announcement of the seven trumpets.
The Seven Seals
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Seals 1-4)
The Souls of Martyrs ( Fifth Seal)
The Second Woe (The 6th Seal)
The Seven Seal
Heaven is silent
The Beginning Of The Seven Trumpets
"And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul"
"And as we wind on down the road" is pretty easy to decipher, simply means as we live our life from day to day. "Our shadows taller than our souls" "shadows" in this case refer to the mirror image of our soul, and if we cast a shadow taller than our soul, we are boasting something that is not true inside us. Revelation has brought us to this point. You ("the lady") have read 65 books in the Bible, and found it interesting reading, but book number 66 is what literally scared the hell out of you, and you have acknowledged the need to be saved as your only way of "buying" a "stairway" to Heaven. But you are boasting something (kidding yourself) that has not been validated and it's casting a shadow taller than the truth. I chose Proverbs 13:15 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"Sound thinking makes for gracious living, but liars walk a rough road."
"There walks a lady we all know, who shines white light and wants to show"
I have seen this many times interpreted as an "angel". or a "divine image". Or even God himself showing the "light". And that's fine if that's how you interpret it, and it works for you. However, that would require changing the metaphor of "the lady" several times throughout the song. When conveying a story using metaphors, the metaphor(s) must remain the same throughout, otherwise it becomes contradictive.
The metaphor for "the lady" is still you and I. And the only "lady" that walks, that we "ALL" know is ourselves.
"Who shines white light and wants to show" is the same as "our shadows taller than our soul" only instead of trying to fool ourselves, we are trying to fool others as well, by showing others (shining our light") that we are saved and have bought our stairway to heaven. But the next line illustrates that we are not yet there, something is still missing. I chose EPHESIANS 2:8-9 and Proverbs 13:7-9 as the Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
"A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life. The rich can be sued for everything they have, but the poor are free of such threats. The lives of good people are brightly lit streets; the lives of the wicked are dark alleys."
"How everything still turns to gold."
A validation of the previous two lines, that you have not released the hold that "gold" (lust, greed gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride) still has on you. An indication that perhaps you are not going to be able to do this on your own. Something else still needs to be done. I chose Job 11:14 as the Bible passage to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles."
"And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last."
Now we are back to Revelation, but now we tie it in with the other 65 books of the Bible and the words ("the tune") becomes clear. We find that a stairway can not be "bought" to Heaven, and the ONLY way to escape Revelation is to SURRENDER YOURSELF TO GOD! I chose James 1:22 and Isaiah 30:29 as the Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
'You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival, And gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute, To go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel."
"When all are one and one is all"
As simple as this sounds, it was a bit difficult to interpret. Basically, it means that everyone is going to get their ticket to Heaven exactly the same way. Heaven is not for sale, and you can not buy a stairway to get there. Everyone gets to Heaven through Jesus Christ, there are no loop holes. I chose Ephesians 2:8 and John 14:6 as the Bible passages to summarize this part of the lyrics.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,"
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
"To be a rock and not to roll."
I chose the yin yang symbol to visually convey the interpretation of this line in the Video. All things have an opposite counterpart that exist together separately in the same space; including good and evil. And you have to choose which of the two opposites is right for you and be a "rock" to that decision and not just go with the flow. Matthew 6:24 says
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. " There are dozens of Bible verses I could use to summarize this line, but I finally decided on 3. 2 Samuel 22:2 , 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, and 2 Corinthians 6:14
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior– from violent people you save me."
"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"
Breaking the chains that bind you
In the last few clips of this video, I try to convey a spiritual transformation. The final deliberate steps that the "lady" has failed to take to climb her "stairway" are now being taken. The first two clips show the gold being melted and the money being burned. This is not to say that if you burn all your money, you will make it to Heaven. This is a metaphor to release the "love" of gold and or money ((lust, greed gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride). To denounce sin, and put Satan behind you. The next clip shows the "lady" surrendering herself to God in the midst of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (which as we recall, scared the hell out of her). After surrendering herself to God, the doors (stores) that once closed to her, are now all opening to let her through. Now, if you notice the subtle change in lyrics, she now is no longer buying "a" stairway to Heaven, but now it is "the" stairway to Heaven. And the last clip see's her walking into the kingdom of Heaven.
1 Peter 5:6
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
Author - Bob Wallace
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