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Stairway to Heaven!

Dreams of ascent: endless stairs, ropes, and ladders to the sky. Or down: descent.

In shamanic dreamwork, visions of ascent and endless climbs are often lessons in persistence, and the ascent is quite real--the struggle of the soul to climb out of its body (strict materialists can substitute "from personal neuroses to clear assessment of community issues" if you like--that's true too), to roam free (as a shaman's spirit should) in the spirit realms, to return with news, advice, and miracle cures.

I mention the shamanic tradition because my own dreams of ascent have fit the shamanic pattern. Certainly the dreams of many city-dwellers (familiar with tall buildings) routinely use upper floors to mean things like higher concerns, mind, conscience, or spirituality--if simply because penthouse views are broader. I think the ancient shamans may have been literally right--when I dream a lot of such ascents, especially if I make it to new heights, an out-of-body or psychic dream often follows. Even if you're firmly non-mystical, watch for the pattern and see if it works. Can't hurt to go upstairs and have a look.

RELATED TOPICS: frustration dreams - I'm falling! - I'm flying! - doors between worlds - astral planes - dream towers - caves and the underworld - spirals and the DNA helix - addiction and twelve-step programs (scraping the bottom of the barrel, eh?) - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

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AMERICAN TANKA: by Wayan; dreamed 1989/7/26, painting-poem-story on 30" disk, 1995.
I dreamed I circumnavigated the entire Buddhist wheel of existence in a single night...
ARE YOU READY?: by a Minnesota woman; pre-1961, two predictive dreamlets, one useful
The elevator man in funereal black said in a sepuchral voice "Are you ready?" I decided I'd wait...
ARISTOTLE'S WIVES: by Wayan, 1984/5/20, a dueling-philosopher dream.
Aristotle keeps marrying my friends and fucking them up. So I challenge Mr. Logic to a shamanic duel...
ASCENT: by Wayan; spring 1997; a comix-panorama on recurrent mountaineering dreams.
All that spring I dreamed of climbing, cold, fatigue, risk, and fear.
But shamanic training involves toughening; ascent isn't always easy flight...
ASTAIRES: by Wayan; 2015/11/17, a dream about... the Web?
A host of Fred Astaires dance mid-air in an endless spiderweb,
then pound on typewriters randomly forever...
BEAR READ DUNE: by Wayan; dreamed 1981/1/28, painted 10 years later.
There are many astral planes--this world's just the cellar.
A cat and a bird in love, a literate bear and I guard the astral stair...
BIRTH, INITIATION, INDIVIDUATION: by Anonymous #6; summer 2007?, a dream of spiritual ascent
I swim the flooded tunnels and pass the crocodiles to enter the house of mystics... but now what?
BLACK SOLSTICE; 1978/12/23 by Wayan; a warning dream-poem
It had been a weirdly mild winter day, but in my dream black storms loomed as I tried to build shelter...
CABIN IN THE SKY: by Wayan; 2005/7/25, a nervous, guilty dreamlet of escape
Bart Simpson leads me down from the Cabin in the Sky back to being... grounded?
CHEAPSHIP!: by Wayan; 1996/8/6, a nightmare on my own stinginess.
I'm a crewman on a ship that's falling apart, and I do mean that literally...
CHESTERFIELD MOVER: by an Oregon woman, 1943, a "meaningless yet profound" predictive dream
I helped my aunt and uncle move upstairs from their rented downstairs flat. Absurd! They own a one-story house they love...
CLIMB DOWN THE PINNACLES: by Jenny Badger Sultan, l995/12/24, a surreal dream and painting
Decision by decision, we made our way down immense rock crags. Below, I had to put out a deadly fire,
a fire as solid as wood or stone, with a white staff. What am I really trying to calm?
CLIMB FROM THE PIT: by Wayan, 1996/11/9, a dream parable.
I'm in the Mideast. No wonder it's a war zone--it's a vast pit BUILT for war!
But a spiral stair leads slowly out, to...
COFFINS: by Beryl and Wayan; 1983/11/5, dark parallel dreams
Twin dreams of ghoulish games backstage at a theater. And they anticipated long-term ghoulishness...
THE COMING DARK: by Jenny Badger Sultan, 2002/3/2; a dream on one disaster averted, and one... not.
I climb down a cliff before night strands me; but in town, risky adolescent games cause a crash...
COMING TO THE JUMPING OFF PLACE: by Jenny Badger Sultan, 92/5/1, painting of an escape dream
Trapped on an island, spied on and controlled, we decide to jump off
a cliff and die; but as we jump, a spirit sneaks us off be reborn...
COYOTE PAJAMAS: by Wayan; 1983/12/17, a Dantesque dream-epic.
I'm Coyote, keeping the Business Prophet from taking over Dante's Peak. But it turns too personal...
DEADWOOD, or, MAO'S ONEIROLOGIST: by Wayan; 1976/4/2, a career-advisory dream-poem
The Cultural Revolution denies me the Himalayas--the spiritual heights.
So I flutter around the base of the Stairway to Heaven...
DEATH DATE: by Jim Shaw; 1994 (early?), a possibly predictive shamanic dream
I become a werewolf and climb into a strange attic. I find a grave marker for
an old friend--but her death date is two years in the future...
DESCENDING THE MOUNTAIN TOWER: by Jenny Badger Sultan, 2004/7/6, a dream of grounding
The boy and I walk a spiral trail down the mountain to the caves of tears...
A DIFFICULT PATH: by Anna Kingsford; 1877/11/3, an advisory dream.
I lead my daughter up a thorny path; she’s getting scratched. She'd rather stay in that fishing village below...
DINOSAUR GRADE: by Wayan, 2006/1/25, a shamanic workout dream
I ride a recumbent bike up an exhausting slope past browsing bears.
Oh. Not bears. Dinosaurs. No wonder I'm so tired! Timetravel's hard...
THE DOOR THROUGH DEATH: by Wayan; 1981/10/25; a Greco-Egyptian nightmare poem
At death's door, my friend lets Cerberus devour her, so I can enter
Death's pyramid alive and expose the truth about the afterlife...
THE DOUBT: by Wayan; 2007/2/15, an undream trance-painting
Painting an abstract watercolor, I drifted into trance, and found myself climbing a
thorny slope. Deer in the brush. Great peaks around. Had I gone wrong?
DREAMKU, MARCH 2007: by Roswila; various dates up to March 2007; 31 dream-poems--mostly haiku
Dream poems laid out like a calendar. Themes? Horses, camels, abused girls, vampires--all want their freedom...
ELF CIRCLE; 2011/3/19 by Wayan; a complex advisory dream.
After trespassing in a staff-only part of Faerie, I'm cast out.
Only I'm cast like a seed, meant to grow a new elf circle...
EXPLODING SWAN: by Aleksanteri Nevalainen; 2010/9; a surreal anxiety dream
In a world where ice contracts & sinks, birds freeze in winter, thaw in spring. But one swan knows better......
FAKE IT!: by Electra Johannes and Patagia; 2007/9/22 and 2007/9/23, linked dreams.
Patagia dreams she fakes a Hindu rite, causing Electra to dream she fakes leadership in a refugee band. But are they faking?
FERRYGOAT: by Wayan; 2009/8/15, a dream warning what I was becoming; Dreamverse #48
That levitating bear's not tightrope-walking--she rides a goat strung like soap-on-a-rope. A goat that's me! I'm eating...
FOR THE FIRST TIME: by Jack Kerouac, Nov? 1954, a lucid dream of escaping a rut
I've climbed a cliff and cower on the brink; but for for the first time I need not
fall or retrace my dangerous path down. I know I'm dreaming, and wake...
FURMAKI: by Wayan; 2018/11/15, an anime-tinged telepathic/shared dream.
We sneak out of the movie to explore Upstairs. My friends hide from the staff
in storage nooks for rolls of fake-fur. They turn into kitsune, catgirls & deergirls...
GIRAFFE MISSION, or, THE 17TH FOOT: by Wayan, 2017/1/30, a Seussian dream-poem on how views broaden
I was in the Mission with friends. A giraffe saw me as narrowminded, and lifted me up
to show me HIS viewpoint. No insights--till we topped the roofline...
GRAVITREE: by Wayan; 2008/3/21, a character-evaluation dream.
Just singing about the antigravitree lightens me. I bound around town. But then I find a diseased antigravitree is
holding me down. It's become a gravitree! Gotta clear out that deadwood, no matter how messy, if I want to fly...
HIGHER LEVEL: by Wayan; 2011/12/13, an absurd transcendent dream
I paddle through the grim streets of Karachi on my belly, on a skateboard,
with my flipper-hands, until at last I reach the border to a Higher Realm...
A HISA ON OLYMPUS: by Wayan; 2014/6/15, a dream on the need to slow down
I'm a hisa, a primitive alien who solves a high-tech crime for the humans. Then I hike home,
step by step, down a great shield volcano. Because shuttles leave your soul behind...
HYPNOGOGIC ASSAULT: by Dr Simon Forman; 1559-63, recurring hypnogogic images.
From age six on, Simon nightly climbs mountains and faces roaring floods in a sort of naptime bootcamp...
IT WASN'T EASY: by Wayan; 1983/2/24, a dream of escaping my family's unrealism
An Arabian prince kidnaps my girlfriend and me. We eventually escape his flying palace, but she gets trapped in
Victorian underwear, while I escape feuding politicians by turning myself into a truck tire. NOT a smart move...
JACOB'S LADDER: by Jacob, grandson of Abraham; c. 2050 BCE; a self-fulfilling prophetic dream.
Jacob dreams of angels climbing to heaven. He meets God, who promises the Holy Land to him and his tribe. Jacob uncritically accepts...
JAMES MERRILL REMEMBERED: by Rachel Hadas; around May 1995; two dream-poems
Soon after my friend and mentor James Merrill died, I had recurring, elusive dreams about him...
LAURA: by Jenny Badger Sultan; 2009/10/24; painting in the Box of Dreams
As we climb down the steep mountainside, clutching bushes to keep from falling,
I ask Laura "Do you want another child?"
LET GO THE SAFE: by Wayan; 2014/2/6; poem of a lucid flying dream
I'm pushing a safe off a roof in Berkeley so it won't be pushed off the roof
(yep, you read that right) but it pulls me with it! Either die, or go lucid and fly...
LITTLE NEMO'S BED: by Winsor McCay; c. 1906, a famous if probably fictional dream icon
Little Nemo's bed gets restless and takes him for a wild ride through town and up onto roofs...
LONG ROAD TO HEAVEN: by Edwin Muir; 1920, an epic hypnogogic shamanic initiation
Creatures in the primal sea touch my third eye, dragons cry their eyes out, I fight the Sphinx, and arrive at last in...
LOON LADDER: by Wayan; 1993/5/13. A dream of rising above.
I had this near-nightmare about climbing a DNA stair up to the sky, and stepping off...
MAHAKALA, MOZART, AND THE CRIPPLED BIRD: by Wayan; 1985/4/17, a dream on facing shadows
The Christian God vs Mahakala, Buddhist god of right anger! War in Middle Earth, as Pink Floyd sings...
MANTA MOTHS: by Wayan; 1990/10/3, a transcendental nightmare echoing a dream 8 years before, (1982/1/22)
Manta Moths pick us off us explorers... or do they? An old scroll spoke of fear leading to transformation...
THE MOUSE BANNER: by Wayan; 1986/9/4, a dream fable.
I'm a mouse with a protest banner saying "FREEDOM!", having a slight argument with a cat...
MY DREAM NIGHTJOB: by Jack Kerouac, late 1956 or early '57, an outa-the-mouths-of-babes dream.
I commute to my dreamjob on a four-story bus; then my baby brother
(who I wouldn't let eat any chocolate pudding) utters a new poem by William Blake...
NINA'S RING: by Nina's clown, 1955/4/20, a lifesaving intuition
While rehearsing our circus act I mentally saw Nina's ladder breaking loose.
Next day, a supporting ring snapped. Being forewarned, I pulled hard...
ORPHEUS AND POOH: by Wayan; 1972/4/9, a dream echoing Cocteau's film Orphee--before seeing it
I meet my true love during a coup. We go through Hell together, like Orpheus and Eurydice--only we...
OVER THE VOLCANO: by AE (George Russell); c.1900, an embarkation dream.
We're spirits over a volcanic fountain of energy. And some of us prepare to ride the current up to...
THE PEGASUS CHILD: by Wayan; 1982/4/4, a dream of family diversity and spiritual advice
Dad's human, Mom's a weird owl-lynx, the kid's a baby Pegasus... and I, W.C. Fields,
that fat cynical drunken old actor, am the babysitter...
PESSIMIST HELIX: by Wayan; 1996/6/9, a wise time-travel dream.
I work the info desk in a futuristic library. But one question leads me into a DNA-helix, a tornado of doubt...
PIANOS IN THE SKY: by an Illinois woman; before 1948, a happy recurrent dream come true
My heart's desire was a new piano, as hopeless as owning a yacht. The dream: a huge space in the air, full of wonderful...
by Wayan; 2017/2/5, an advisory dream fusing Aldous Huxley & My Little Pony.
My new housemate Pinkie is a party animal, but she's really nice.
Pinkie climbs a high ladder to help wash my Windows of Perception...
Then our unicorn friend Rarity walks in. She warns me to pace this renovation project...
THE PLOWSHARES PROGRAM: by Wayan; 2017/11/12, a feverdream reminder of technofailures
Looks like this underground nuclear test will leak. Minutes from detonation,
we flee up the spiral stair and out across the sand. Can we run far enough in time?
POLE OF THE EMPIRE STATE: by Wayan; 2002/3/26, a 9/11 nightmare about... suspension?
I find myself clinging to a pole as tall as the Empire State Building. Can I slide down
without falling? Or burning from friction? And... what's down there?
POLYGON DREAMS: by Wayan; 2007/4/23, a 32-page comic on the effects of shapes
What if comics panels and layouts weren't so square? I try triangles,
pentagons, hexagons, circles, spirals--and some serious stuff pops out...
POOL OF TRUTH: by Katherine Metcalf Nelson; 1983/10/1; a dream of shamanic descent
Night. A massive crash on the highway. Bodies strewn. Sickened, I descend a spiral stair to the Pool
of Truth. It gives no answers. Women spout platitudes. I go on, in pain, down past the polar bears...
PRAYER: by Marie-Claude Girondé, early 2009, a dream painting.
"Our resurrection is not entirely in the future; it's also in us, it begins, it's already begun..."
MY RAPPEL-MAD SISTER: by Wayan; 1984/7/14-15, a dreamtale on being halfway.
My sister hoists us up to the Goddess's country too early, or too late: the ice is thawing, treacherous...
ROCKY LOVE: by Wayan; 1984/1/18, a dream farce.
A friend's tragic accident confines him to disco roller skates for life! Worse yet, he's in a Rocky Relationship...
SKY-THAW; 2012/6/8 by Wayan; a comic, surreal, political dream-poem
While watching two rooftop actors (one a chicken) I noticed the icebergs in the sky were melting at last...
SNAKE TREE: by Jenny Badger Sultan; 1989/10/31, a dream revisioning Eden
A woman up a tree has white flaky stuff camouflaging her.
It cracks and peels like snakeskin. What tree is this, exactly?
THE STAIRWELL TEST: by Wayan; 1980/9/7, a... pedophilic defenestration dream???
An underage girl comes on to me, and begs me to... throw her down a stairwell?!
STANLEY, or, GOOD DOG!: by Wayan; 1994/6/1, a dream on... obedience.
My friend Stanley is a social icebreaker: thick-skinned, blundering, but useful. So why am I mad at him?
STRUCK BY THOUGHT: by Wayan; dreamed 1956-7, 71/11/26, 78/12/28, 82/10/5, & 83/9/12
A picture-poem experiment: one dream per stanza!
Five short dreams exploring the weight of culture on our animal selves...
SURVIVOR'S CURIOUS: by Wayan; 2010/7/7, a dream of an inner guard relaxing
As we cross a scary ledge, my tough survival-guide, always no-nonsense before,
finally willing to consider... intellectualism, dating, ethics... fun?
33 EGGS: by "Anonymous #12"; pre-1963, a short, pointless, precise predictive dream
I dreamt a farmer gave me 33 eggs in a bucket. On the stair, he handed me 3 more. I woke, told my family...
TINA FEY TRIES TO FLY: by Wayan; 2017/4/24, a mystical feminist farce of a dream
In a world where speech is in Mayan glyphs, comedian Tina Fey (dressed for prom night)
climbs a Tibetan peak to learn levitation. But the flying monks are scared of women...
TITANIA: by Wayan; 1981/12/7, 83/1/7 & 2/13 and 84/10/2, a dream-epic in installments
Clarence the sappy angel from It's A Wonderful Life and Milton's Lucifer land on Earth, offering treaties.
Who to sign with? Clarence thinks we're fine as is, but the Devil's a tinkerer, learning from failures. Failures
like me and my girlfriend Titania, the first android with a full palette of feelings. Like the feeling she's fake...
TOWER OF THE MARTIAN DEAD: by Wayan, 1983/7/7; a dream-poem of an exo-Valhalla
Climbing a mountain on Mars, I reach a hall where I'm transformed into a cryophilic being.
Then I feast on methane soup with the heroic Martian dead...
TRUST YOUR CANOE: by Wayan; 2012/8/16, two diagnostic dreamlets
I ride a magical self-guiding canoe, seeking the right beach and cove for me.
Even when the boat climbs hills so I can explore inland, I expect it to fail...
TSUNAMI: by Wayan; 2011/12/31, a feverdream, maybe predictive, definitely prescriptive
I cling alone to the cliffs of Lands End, so when the tsunami hits,
I survive. Had I been in the low, crowded Sunset district I'd be dead...
THE 1200-STEP PROGRAM: by Wayan; 1987/12/17, an illustrated dreamtale.
I'm climbing a tower, as my dad, Apollo, drunk, throws bottles at me from the top, breaking bones...
THE TYRANT'S WIFE: by Wayan; 1980/6/9, a dreamtale.
In our plot to kill the Tyrant, we used his wife. Or... did she use us? She goes mad, but--she's HAPPY...
WINDOW IN THE SKY: by Emily Joy; 2006/10/15, an epic, flying, apocalyptic dream
When my friends and I learn to fly, all of Middle Earth turns against us!
Fleeing from Saruman's army, I discover the backstage truth about our world...
WOLF DROOL: by Wayan; 2011/12/16, a seeming sex dream that's really a health advisory!
Miniaturized, smuggled over a border inside a she-wolf's mouth, I long
for where I got briefly hidden--her labia. But healing first, sex later!
ZILLIONAIRE'S TOWER: by Wayan; 2012/2/9, a financial climbing dream
My mild yuppie friend Lou climbs a bank tower to reach his rich mentor,
and wins an internship. But as he swears his oath to Get Rich Quick...

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