Stairs Staircase

As a baby, stairs presented a huge challenge. To deal with them we had to develop several major abilities, such as steady balance, confidence, control of fear of falling, strength of purpose. Therefore, stairs represent many feelings in connection with achievement, failure, climbing and falling. When these feelings also connect with work, relationship, social standing or sex, then we use stairs as a symbol of what we are feeling.

Taking steps toward something; going up or down in life in your own estimation; moving from one environment to another, so a shift in some way; gaining a new skill, or facing a challenge – stairs are difficult and dangerous when we are children, and so probably remain as a symbol of challenge, danger and achievement in adulthood. Many dreams of climbing stairs include feelings of high anxiety. This is either to do with avoiding a danger at the foot of the stairs, or arriving at something threatening or dangerous at the top. But the difficult feelings might not be due to danger, but to finding or realising things that radically change the way you see yourself or the world. The following example illustrates this.

Example: We move into a house and nobody but myself has really taken any notice of the stairs. Nobody has been up. In one dream I try to go up but the children are scared for me. They plead, “don’t go up Mum, just forget them.” Then I wake. In the next dream I wait till they are asleep. Half way up I can see there is a glass roof, the wooden frames painted green. I am terrified but have to go on. Then I wake. Next dream I got up there. It smells very musty. Lots of draw sheets
covering things. See Nothing Can Hurt You in Your Dreams

Going down stairs: This is a controlled fall. The ease or difficulty with which you manage the descent, shows how well you manage the fear of falling, or the measure of your confidence.

If you are going down into a basement or cellar it can mean that in the cellar or basement one is near to the earth, the primordial forces of nature, what moves beneath ones ‘street level’ personality. So if you feel anxious as you go down it suggests you have not explored this level of your mind yet. This is because many people as their awareness reaches beyond what they feel is their normal self feel scared. Such resistances cause us to create awful dreams and fears as a means of avoiding our own inner world and its wonders. We feel that we will be swallowed up and we will die. It is important to say that when we meet the experience of powerlessness through becoming aware of the hugeness of your Life, which we are usually unaware if, it feels like something alien or attacking, and it is a shock.

Going down may mean you are going down in life, but sometimes it links with loss of good feelings, of health or even like the following dream.

Example: “I dreamed that I was awakened by the sound of a horse’s hooves in the street. I saw a white horse, with no rider, stopping at midnight in front of our house. I knew it came for my younger sister. I went to the door and opened it to call her, when suddenly I saw her coming down the stairs, all dressed in white. She did not say a word to me, but walked with stately steps down the stairs, through the hall, and out of the door. She mounted the horse and rode away. I woke up crying.” The woman’s sister died a month later.

Going up stairs: Again, this is about a change of situation or environment, but going up frequently depicts greater excitement, awareness or discovery of new experience.

Going up shows you leaving the everyday, ground level or ordinary world of experience.

So it can be an escape from involvement with others or events, or also an ascent into greater vulnerability.

The example below shows how going upstairs can be an opening or widening of awareness to include areas of experience usually avoided. In fact Mrs. H. takes her awareness down to more everyday levels to escape meeting the light. This shows how we not only avoid unpleasantness, but also something wonderful or out of the ordinary.

Running up: Escaping from urges arising from lower down in the body – so a movement of attention towards the abstract or mental away from fears arising from unconscious or sexuality; lack of confidence, a fear of failing or not being capable is also a common feeling in connection with stairs; if running up with pleasure, then it suggests exuberance producing a change in your feelings and situation.

Walking down: Going down stairs, apart from a descent from a higher place, a more inclusive view, is also a controlled fall. This might suggest being in control of a changing situation.

Skimming down: This is a dream often experienced by children. It is almost like flying down the stairs, the feet just touching the edge of the stairs every so often, creating an exhilarating sense of pleasure. The reason for the dream is most likely that going down stairs as a young child is a difficult and dangerous skill. Most of us have fallen at some point. As we gain greater physical control and can run down stairs, a sense of greater achievement arises. Not only stairs, but other areas of our environment that were dangerous, are now a source of pleasure. The dream translates this feeling into the image of skimming the stairs.

Example: I would stand at the top of the stairs and instead of walking down the stairs I used to fly. This dream lasted for a number of years and as I got older I sometimes dreamed that boys or men were chasing me. I would suddenly take off like a helicopter and fly away. Sometimes narrowly escaping from my pursuer.

Here the stairs represent confidence in dealing with difficulties. But when she got to puberty she faced a new difficulty, her desire for a partner and her sexual feelings, flying away into the air often shows how we can escape difficult feelings by living in a fantasy, reading a book or watching a film as an escape.

Example: ‘I was in a building with a group of people. I was being chased and suddenly fly up in the air to escape my pursuers.’ Michael O.

Spiral staircase: The spiral staircase usually indicates – if going up – your personal evolution and positive change, and the change is one involving greater insight or wider view of yourself and life. It also involves the continuous repeating of experience, going around daily activities, facing the same again and again, but each cycle brings positive change.

The spiral staircase hints at a view of life you have, that you are in a process of continual growth, the spiral staircase of Life. So perhaps the change is part of your growth. The feeling of the house is usually a way of telling you something – probably that the house/you that you live in at the moment is not a good place to be – or the reverse. It is probably referring to your attitudes in life.

In most cases the ascent is, like the rising sun during the day or the summer, linked completely with the descent in the evening, night, or winter. Ascent is therefore part of a spiral which also descends, the cycle of birth, death, rebirth. Christianity tends to speak of a one time resurrection, whereas the ancients saw it as a continuing cycle.

Example: ‘I go up the first flight of stairs, then the next, and there is my ex husband’s Nan who is dead and whom I have never met. I don’t see her face but I know it’s her. She is a blinding white light and I run down the stairs.’ Mrs. H.


-Sophie 2015-05-06 9:27:42

Hi Tony,
Last night I dreamt about climbing stairs/steps with my boyfriend. We were just climbing up it and I couldn’t see the top or the bottom.. But it was just that we were on a stairs and climbing up. It was rather odd to me! Nothing else was in visual apart from the fact that O somehow knew that we were in South Africa, climbing stairs with no top that I could see off! I’ve just read what u wrote here and would love to see what u thought of this dream??

    -Anna - Tony's Assistant 2015-05-07 12:00:30

    Dear Sophie – A wonderful dream about expanding your awareness.
    In dreams we still use native or tribal Africans or Australian Aborigines to represent our own natural inner life, the feeling urges or intuitions that guide or beset us. Thus the African, or being in Africa in a white person’s dream, unless we have defined associations with it (, may represent a level of our mind or consciousness that does not differentiate and separate things in the same way our conscious rational mind usually does.
    This African or archaic strata of consciousness produces a sense of being connected with the mysterious spirit of life itself. It also gives insights into the wisdom learned through collective human and animal experience.
    The African would suggest contact with the insights, intuitions or influences arising from such a source. It therefore also has a connotation or connection with formation, the coming into form of what exists at present unconsciously as potential.
    What you become aware of in your dream is that your potential “in Itself” is limitless; it has no beginning and no end.
    Quantum physics has begun to show that the roots of our being are not in the atom — the material object that led to our view we are only a body that lives and dies. The new view suggests that the very foundation of our being lives beyond time and space.
    All that life has learned is a great matrix of influence that continues to flow into the way things work, and who we are. All the time, in a sort of flashing newness of creativity the collective awareness constantly upgrades, it constantly experiments; it constantly tries out new things. It does this because of the factor of randomness, because an aspect of the universe and life is chaotic, and it has through that a freedom to do the unexpected. And Life integrates what it learns.
    So our potential is not in itself anything known. Only when the potential is expressed in some way can we know it.
    I very much like this article about potential and so maybe it will be of help to you too
    I wonder what you associate with your boyfriend in the dream – not in your waking life – and if you see this aspect of your male as a “guiding function”.
    You can explore this aspect by using
    Good Luck!
    Anna 🙂

-Laura 2015-03-20 2:45:45

Hi Tony,
I was looking for some insight into a recurring dream that I have involving stairs.
I am happily with my boyfriend (at a party, family BBQ, or in bed) at the start of the dream, but then he has to go somewhere. Then I start to look for him, and everytime I do other people in the dream tell me he is up the stairs, or I just know that is where he is. I go to the base of the stairs yet I can never climb them. I don’t fear climbing the stairs, I just can’t or don’t. I just stand at the bottom, looking up feeling a great loss.
Any info on this dream would be greatly appreciated as I have been having this dream for 3 to 4 years now.

    -Anna 2015-03-20 23:15:40

    Laura – In general dreams recur because there are ways the dreamer habitually responds to their internal or external world. Because their attitude or response is unchanging, the dream that reflects it remains the same.
    I feel the dream reflects that you have become rather dependant for your inner wholeness on your outer boyfriend.
    I wonder if the feeling of great loss is merely about the loss of your inner power (of decision)?
    I trust it will be helpful to know that you do have enough inner recourses – your inner male – to be able to climb these stairs.
    So you can change your “I just can’t or don’t” in I CAN and I WILL do it.
    Good Luck!
    Anna 🙂

-Jessica 2014-11-22 18:16:37


I am looking for answers on a reoccuring theme of dream I have. Usually the dream is me trying to walk up huge staircases in different senes and I am always lost and get more lost the more staircases I climb. But most importantly, to me, I am terrified the entire time. I am so scared of having to go up these staircases. Sometimes people are with me, sometomes I know the purpose of where I am trying to get to but always I HAVE to co tinue on the stairs. I feel trapped by them even though I fear I am going to die or be injured by falling on them because they are such terrifying staircases. Last night was my first dream of going down a spiral staircase but it had the same general theme of being very sick as I tried to go down them and I just couldnt make it down them because it seemed they never ended.
I would very mich appriciate any feedback you may have.

    -Tony Crisp 2014-11-23 15:14:37

    Jessica – Stairs are very dangerous place for young children or old people. So I wonder have you ever been hurt or frightened in connection with stairs?

    But apart from that you are trapped and frightened, scared of being hurt or dying. I feel there is a way out of your situation, but I feel you need information about the nature of dreams, so I would like you to read and the example.

    Example: Before waking this morning I had an extraordinary lucid experience that involved some imagery. One of the clearest of these images was of myself in a maze. The walls of the maze were made of hedges, as the whole thing was outdoors. But I realised, because I was lucid in the experience, that I had purposely created the maze as an experiment.

    The point of the experiment was that the maze was complicated enough to make it difficult for me to find my way out. So, confronted by the difficulty of emerging from this dream maze, because of the lucidity, I could understand that this was a dream image, and in doing so I simply realised myself as pure awareness and transcended the maze.

    I then experimented again and again with this, moving beyond the imagery into pure awareness. This was such an extraordinary experience and realisation it is difficult to put into words with enough impact to make it real.
    What it led me to become clear about was that all dreams involve our personal awareness in an environment or imagery of one sort or another.

    Usually we feel the dream imagery to be so real, and the feelings we experience because of the imagery to also be real, that in a very concrete sense we are trapped. So if we were in a prison cell in a dream, then there would be no way out of that cell without a key. But realising oneself as pure awareness means there is no prison; there is no entrapment; there are no walls to hold you. The imagery of the dream is then seen as simply that – imagery – stuff of the mind that we have conjured and become identified with and lost or trapped in. Even imagery with positive feelings are a form of trap if we identify with them.

    So while awake I would like you to find time to sit and imagine yourself back in the dream – so now you are lucid in your dream as it were. See if you can get something of the feeling of panic, but then remind yourself that this is a dream which expressed your feelings of being lost and scared and trapped. Then, because you are lucid, change the images to feel free.

    Your feelings and dreams are a replay of old feelings that have become habitual, so it will take time to create a new way of feeling, so do it again and again over a period of time until it stops. Also please see


-becky 2014-10-23 6:34:55

Hi tony. I keep checking back to see if you reply, just incase you think ive dispearred 🙂

-becky 2014-10-21 13:37:55

Hello tony crisp.
last night I had a very peculiar dream, that I was standing on a chair on a roof of a house waving, a house with very few windows and a windchime chiming above the front door.There were mountains behind the house, and a fox outside the front gate with a ray of light above its head. Also I was climbing a wooden broken staircase to get to the roof.This sounds stupid.But could you interpret.

    -Tony Crisp 2014-10-26 8:20:57

    Becky – It seems you are not in the most secure position standing on a chair on a roof. The house with few windows is probably pointing out that the physical senses you have are very limited, and you have climbed up as high as you can for a better view of what life is about.

    But you can see from there that you have a mountain behind you, so why not get down from the house and climb the mountain. Do it by imagining yourself starting the climb. It is a way of communicating with your dream creator and your inner self. See

    The wind chime is a way of letting you know that the wind is the spirit is working within you – the wind is a living force – it is the spirit that is life itself, the invisible that yet has the strength to move us.

    The fox is the shrewd part of you, in touch with nature in you and the world. This probably because the fox, although a wild creature, lives equally well in forest and in towns. So it can give you great wisdom. The light above it makes this meaning even stronger – follow the fox as it leads you up the mountain.


-ness 2014-10-06 14:17:51

I dreamt I was walking up these old stairs in a broken run down house and on the stairs were things, can’t remember exactly what though I picked up a pair of second hand clothes and wore them. There was a blue star at the top of the stairs made out of material carefully folded over the stair by the old man that lived there. When I got to the top past all the weird clutter, I was on a balcony I looked down and below inside the house was muddy water. The muddy water was going down until all that was left was muddy residue from the water all over the furniture. What do you think that means?

-Lissette 2014-07-22 13:31:57

Hi I was dreaming of walking up the stairs but these were steep stairs and everyone even my daughter was passing me by. I countinue to walk up the stairs difficult as it may be but I continue to do it because I know I can.

-ans6746 2014-06-11 6:46:20

Thankyou Tony.

-ans6746 2014-06-07 7:27:22

Hi Tony,
I had this strange dream where I was going down really,old and rickety stairs at a public place.My feet were frozen or something and I had a great difficulty climbing down,my cousins were waiting for me down as I had asked them to move ahead because of my speed.It took a long time with frozen feet.I even saw another cousin on one of the floors and promised to get him some books.I tripped on few people and then reached my destination.

    -Tony Crisp 2014-06-09 8:07:35

    April – It seems you are not confident about being in the public eye when you are not sure if yourself. The frozen feet are an example of this: Perhaps you have ‘cold feet’- somewhat scared of making any moves in case you get hurt or are simply an anxious person.

    Anyway, it seems you learn a lot from your cousins about the way they meet life, so in the dream you manage despite having cold feet. See


-chrissy 2014-02-09 7:11:03

My nephews live with me. They came home late from a birthday party. I was worried being thry weren’t home. I had a dream I was someplace and I saw my nephew (6 years old) go in a door. Thought it was the bathroom but it was a hallway and staircase. I called to him and he said up here. I climbed and climbed a winding staircase until I got to the top and found him but he somehow locked himself in a huge room and couldn’t get out. I then woke up.

-autumnsky123 2014-01-11 12:39:58

Dear Tony

Ever since I was small I always dreams about stair. I remembered when I was 5 ,the stairs near my unit were mashed and on top of the crumbled stair were a picture of my great grandma. Ever since my high school year I have dream about escaping through houses full of stairs, and the house always changes but they were dark and scary. However there were no fear in my dream about stairs, everytime I escaped from the mansion or house, I found myself going back to it and tried to escape it again. My dream always come true, I wonder if these dreams come true as well?

-Joanna Nedrow 2013-11-06 13:34:22

Last night I had a dream I was climbing a spiral staircase in a dark black building. The stairs were dark and winding and the rail was metal and cold. At the top, the roof top, was my best friend of 15 years, Marcos, playing the piano performing a concert for a movie star singing. He stopped and introduced me as someone very special to him. I felt so beautiful and loved and adored. I had a wedding ring on and I was ashamed of it.

    -Tony Crisp 2013-11-10 11:39:27

    Joanna – You have experienced a long and sometimes difficult climb to greater self realisation. The dark black building is the dark times you have passed through to a form of liberation. The best friend is the love you have found in friendship; a love that probably should not be confused with an outer love, but is certainly an inner one. It is the best you have found and in finding it you achieve what you have wanted all along – feeling so beautiful and loved and adored.

    Of course in the dream you have seen the possibility of love, but usually we lose sight of it again. But it can be found again by trying to stabilise your awareness in the highest you have within you. Also remember that marriage is not shown as a good thing in your dream – but love is. See


-mela 2012-05-14 3:29:26

I had this dream that I was on the top of this huge staircase in town, where everybody was going up and down with no problem; my sister, I and another girl whom I don’t recall who she was, we suppose to go down the stair together in the town; but the girls left me behind and when I wanted to go after them down on the stairs I was too afraid I’ll fall; I was trying to do it, but each time I would get too scared; finally, this lady that I know in reality, appeared and I was almost in tears when I saw it and begged her o help me; she agreed and I start walking with her down the stairs; later on this lady changed into being my mom actually, so finally I got down at the stairs. The staircase is a dream that I have sometimes, though is not the same; but the fear is constant; because the stairs are too tall and I’m terrified. What does it mean and why does it keep repeating? Thanks.

    -Tony Crisp 2012-05-15 11:45:01

    Mela – Stairs are difficult and dangerous when we are children, and so probably remain as a symbol of challenge, danger and achievement in adulthood. Many dreams of going down stairs include feelings of high anxiety. So this dream was a confrontation with a childhood fear, and you managed it by using the confidence gained from your mother.

    It may be that either you had a fall when young and got frightened of stairs, or else someone else scared you in connection with stairs.


-Lauren Vargas 2012-03-05 5:12:13

Last week I was having this nightmare about a haunted house. I remember looking up the staircase and being too scared to go up stairs because there was a demon up there.
I’ve had past dreams about living in a house where people I was living with were being possessed; even the animals. I’m trying to make sense of this; I think I have but I’m just not sure.

-tigresstiff 2011-11-28 0:26:10

Hi Tony,

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I had another interesting dream recently, and I’d love your insight as to what it means.

In this dream, I was part of a group of people on some sort of journey or expedition. The first part of the dream, we were rafting/boating down a river that had some sleeping crocodiles in it. A woman who’d somehow ended up out of the boat was walking through the water carefully, so as to not wake the sleeping crocs. I’m not sure if the woman was me or not, because I could see her as though I was outside of her, but I felt the tension of trying to walk carefully.

The second part of the dream, my group had made it our of the river and were walking along a path when we saw the next part of our journey – the tallest, sky-high vertical, narrow mountain we’d need to scale to get to the top, where we’d find out what was next. There were two side by side paths we could take up, one was a staircase and one was rougher less structured, but still possible to climb path. I chose the second. I was climbing slowly as I was holding onto my little dog (my dog in real life, a 7 lb chihuahua/yorkie rescue named Cinnamon) and I felt her slipping. I wanted to keep her safe. I realized that the crowd was right behind me scaling the mountain and that gave me the confidence to finish the climb with Cinnamon safely in my arms.

Once atop the mountain, there were houses, brand new, for us to stay in while we awaited further instruction.

Thoughts? Thank you!

    -Tony Crisp 2011-11-30 13:02:04

    Tigresstiff – The journey is how you are feeling about our life and its ups and downs, goals and destinations, challenges and opportunities. It shows your life and what it is achieving The journey cannot be undertaken unless you are willing to travel, to move from one experience, one attitude or way of life to another. And at first it seems slightly threatening – the crocs – and so you go carefully, feeling your way, after it is new to you. You are the woman because you are all the dream characters.

    Then you are feeling more confident and see the tall mountain. This is saying that this is a journey into wider awareness. So climbing the mountain by a less structured path is the struggle with oneself, such as facing lack of confidence and forging on; meeting the difficulties of life and trying to move on. And the fact that you managed it, holding and protecting your vulnerable self, shows you opening to that power of change and growth. In other words, it indicates an influence from your core influencing your personality.

    Obviously others have taken this path, even though difficult, and there are buildings there, a space to dwell before the next stage of your growth. The next stage promises to be a very new experience.


      -tigresstiff 2011-12-02 5:54:32

      Thank you Tony! Very much appreciated. 🙂

        -Tony Crisp 2011-12-03 12:28:04

        Your’e welcome.


Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved