This band back in the 70’s actually did what bands were always accused of – invoking Satanic progressions and harmonies.
The A list band wrote the song about a ghostly figure who appeared after being summoned via a book about the occult.
Stairway to Heaven
The Book of the Law
Led Zeppelin’s Foray into the Aleister Crowley Occult had Grave Consequences
It begins with Aleister Crowley. Crowley was a British writer, mountaineer, and occultist practitioner of “magick.”
He was a very controversial figure in his own time, with relatively few followers, but became something of a cult figure after his death. In 1898 he became involved in occultism and joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an organization with Rosicrucian (an order of mystics) roots.
A year later he left the Golden Dawn, and went to found his own esoteric order. Crowley reported having mystical experiences during a visit to Egypt in 1904 and wrote the Book of Law, which he claimed a spirit had dictated to him. One of the basic precepts of the book was “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” and Crowley made it the basis for new religion, Thelema.
He was known for the use of drugs, and for a sexual liberation that was ahead of his time. He combined both with ritual magick to achieve altered states of mind. Opinions on the sort of person he was are wildly variable, depending on where you look.
Despite the fact that Crowley died in 1947, many of his views and philosophies helped shape the views of the ‘60s counterculture, and so did his mysticism.
As the Beatles Era morphed into the psychedelic movement of the late 1960s, and a variety of recreational drugs came into more common use, musicians of the time, and their fans, began looking for something farther removed from the mainstream.
It was around this time that Jimmy Page started to become interested in Crowley and his writings. Page’s band, Led Zeppelin, released their first album in 1969, and they were gaining in popularity.
According to Car Wreck DeBangs, this was about the time that Page asked his bandmates to join him in a magick ritual, based on Crowley’s writings, to help the band.
All of them participated in the spell except for John Paul Jones, who kept well clear of the whole thing.
The first signs of their commitment show up on Led Zeppelin III, where two of Crowley’s catchphrases are allegedly carved into the outro groove – “Do as Thou Wilt” on one side, and “So Mote it Be” on the other.
It was on the following album, Led Zeppelin IV, that the arcane imagery became more overt, the album cover showing only an image of the Hermit from the Tarot, and the inner sleeve bearing four esoteric symbols meant to represent the band members.
In 1972 Page agreed to do the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising, a movie being created by Kenneth Anger, who was another ritual magick practitioner.
Page and Anger had an intense relationship that ended in a falling out in 1975. Anger trashed Page in the media, but he reportedly said in private that he laid a curse on Page and Led Zeppelin. Then things got weird.
First, Robert Plant and his family were nearly killed when their car went off a cliff in Greece. The accident forced the band to cancel the rest of their Physical Graffiti tour and delayed the recording of their next album. When they began the make-up tour, it was plagued by bad luck. – Source
The Meaning of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”
Penned by Robert Plant, the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” that begins as a critique on an overly materialistic society, suggesting that spending your entire life collecting material possessions is a fruitless endeavor, as it won’t get you to heaven, and you can’t use any of it when you get there, anyway.
The song runs over 8 minutes in length and features Plant’s signature vague, poetic songwriting style. He relies heavily on metaphors to get his meaning across, and the song winds up with an overarching theme about finding a spiritual grounding within life, rather than hoping for salvation in death.
It all begins with the first verse, sung over gentle guitar work by the mastermind Jimmy Page:
There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven
First verse to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
We can see that the woman Plant sings about is quite accustomed to having things done her way, as he suggests that after she buys her way into heaven, the stores there will open their doors for her well after closing time because she is just that special.
However, this woman’s life is telling her as blatantly as if there were a sign on the wall that her pursuit of riches and materialism will offer her nothing in the afterlife. She chooses to ignore this, because she wants to see for herself, as she has seen things to be not as they seem in the past.
There’s a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
Second verse to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
From there, the song shifts into a more spiritual perspective, and Plant shifts his own perspective into the first person. This coincides with additional layers being added to the song’s arrangement, contributing to a gradual buildup that occurs through the first part of the song.
In this way, “Stairway to Heaven” can be seen as an allegory for one’s journey through life, and the search for meaning and understanding through it all.
There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking
Third verse to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
As the song goes on, the lyrics become more abstract, as Plant continues to explore the calling of his spirit. He recalls a feeling of looking to the west with a strong desire to leave, or to run away from his problems and worries.
Then we have the metaphor of smoke rising through the trees, which has been taken to mean many things by many different people. But the gist is that it is an eerily threatening thing to see, such as an approaching army, while people outside the forest stand and watch in anticipation of the threat to come.
However, all of this is happening in Plant’s thoughts, again suggesting the meaning to be metaphorical of one’s journey through life and the challenges you may face along the way.
In the next segment, Plant offers some more hopeful imagery:
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
Fourth verse to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
Here we can see the people whispering among themselves of a hope for salvation “if we all call the tune.” This can be seen as an ode to the power of music, suggesting that it is capable of fighting off the powerful forces of darkness. – Source
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