Marie Louise von Franz Interprets the Dream of Jacob’s Ladder
The Bible references more than 100 dreams or visions. The dream of Jacob’s Ladder is one of the better known dreams, and one of the most frequently depicted dreams in the art world.
Jacob left Beersheba, 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 that 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 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.
Commentary by Marie Louise Von Franz:
Later in the Renaissance in the seventeenth century, Jacob’s Ladder was interpreted symbolically as being the sounds and vowels of human speech, or the different qualities of the world, or the different numbers of the world. The basic idea of different systems of thought was projected onto the ladder. But in all cases the ladder symbolized a continuous, constant connection with the divine powers of the unconscious. We could say the dream itself was such a ladder. It connects us with the unknown depth of our psyche. Every dream is a rung on a ladder, so to speak.
The Way of the Dream Marie Louse Von Franz