The description of Jacob’s ladder appears in Genesis 28:12
Jacob left Beersheeba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it [or “beside him”] and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Afterwards, Jacob names the place, “Bethel” (literally, “House of God”)
Richard Rose, founder of the TAT Foundation used the image of Jacob’s Ladder as a framework in his teachings. Here’s a link to the TAT Forum magazine in which that teaching is given, in five parts. http://tatfoundation.org/forum2005-02.htm#1
Everyone has dreams. Some people claim that they do not but research shows that this is not so, simply that not everyone remembers their dreams spontaneously but all can do so if they want to. You can set an alarm to waken you during the night and you’ll become aware of your dreams.
I subscribe to the Jungian idea that dreams are letters from the unconscious and we all have an unconscious aspect to us. In the interest of getting to know ourselves fully, paying attention to our dreams is an effective method of uncovering what is happening deep in our personal psyche’s.
Learning to interpret our dreams is a skill worth acquiring in this regard.
In olden times dreams were credited with much more importance that they are in modern culture, where all things personal and psychic have been relegated to a secondary position. Several dreams are given and interpreted in the Bible.
Jacob’s dream has been an inspiration to many artists and wisdom teachers through the ages.
There are two different classes of dreams: one; dreams which are about processing our everyday thoughts and lives and two; “major” or what Jung called “archetypal” dreams which are messages from the unconscious,the soul or the transcendent aspect of us or God, if you will.
Everyone has both kinds and it is important to learn to distinguish between them in yourself. Generally personal archetypal dreams are guidance for you personally and not intended to influence the world as Jacob interpreted his dream. After all, Jacob was a Patriarch, which means he was a man with power and influence in his society, a recognised holy man and so his dreams were given greater recognition in his society than that of an “ordinary” person.
All of us have a direct link to our source and so have the capacity to receive communications from our source if we are open to accepting this aspect of ourselves.
I have found dreams to have given me guidance and information on the spiritual path. I see them as a way in which intuition can get through to us if we are willing to interpret them.
The message of Jacob’s Ladder is that there is a path between Earth and Heaven or to state it more personally between us and our source. In Hindu parlance this could be stated as there being a path between self (ego) and Self (source).
This is what is known nowadays as the spiritual path, and it is expressed in the various wisdom traditions of the world. Nowadays with access to all of these teachings in the internet it can be confusing. We might be tempted to think that each of these traditions are dealing with a different topic or issue but all of them are dealing with “the human condition” and offering clues as to how we might go about healing our inner lives.
It is a journey that is open to everyone of us but it is a journey that each one has to make on their own. No teacher or guru can do it for you. All they can do is share the teachings and the wisdom gained on their own journey as to how to make yourself available to divine Grace.
This journey is one of inner transformation and the transformation begins as soon as you put your foot on the first rung of the ladder.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land;”
The land he is speaking of is not a geographic location but an inner state, the state of knowing your true nature.
As Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”.
Here’s a link to Led Zepplin’s song Stairway to Heaven prompted by Jacob’s Ladder.
Words: English Folk, 18th or early 19th century
Music: English Folk, 18th century
As Jacob with travel was weary one day,
At night on a stone for a pillow he lay,
He saw in a vision a ladder so high,
That its foot was on earth, and its top in the sky.
Hallelujah to Jesus, who died on the Tree
And hath rais’d up a ladder of mercy for me,
And hath rais’d up a ladder of mercy for me.
This ladder is long, it is strong and well-made,
Has stood hundreds of years and is not yet decayed;
Many millions have climbed it and reached Sion’s hill,
And thousands by faith are climbing it still·
Come let us ascend: alt may climb it who will;
For the Angels of Jacob are guarding it still:
And remember each step, that by faith we pass o’er,
Some Prophet or Martyr hath trod it before,
And when we arrive at the haven of rest
We shall hear the glad words, “Come up hither., ye blest,
Here are regions of light, here are mansions of bliss:”
O, who would not climb such a ladder as this?
Sheet Music from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1871)
And here’s nother link on this theme: