Ladders in Dreams: 7 Symbolic Meanings & Interpretation

Ladders are frequent dream symbols that carry both practical and spiritual meaning.

Ladders in dreams are usually positive symbols that signal success in life, progress, or spiritual growth. However, dreaming of falling off a ladder can mean your current projects are too ambitious. Finally, in a religious sense, ladders represent the connection between the mortal realm and the divine realm.

Dream ladders symbolize progress towards goals & spiritual growth

A ladder in dreams usually symbolizes progress, ambition, ascent, and the journey towards your goals.

The physical effort of climbing a ladder step by step symbolizes the progress one makes toward a goal.

Just as real ladders connect lower places to higher ones, so too do ladders in dreams connect one’s current situation with future hopes or goals.

In this sense, the ladder dream symbol suggests you are on a journey of improvement and advancement, progressing step by step towards your objectives.

In some contexts, using a ladder to escape captivity suggests you are overcoming difficult situations in waking life, despite the fact that there are numerous obstacles that are trying to hold you back.

The faster you can climb the steps, the quicker you expect success to come.

Do not be discouraged if you climb the dream ladder with great difficulty. This means you expect obstacles ahead but believe you have the strength to overcome them.

The steps or rungs of the ladder are significant, too.

For example, the ladder in your dream might be a corporate or social ladder, where each rung represents a new level of promotion, social status, or success in general.

Dreaming you’ve actually climbed to the top of the ladder indicates success in waking life, such as the accumulation of wealth and honor, a content personal life, or great personal prestige.

However, to dream you have some way to go to reach the top suggests your goals are overly ambitious or you’ve taken a longer route to your destination.

Dream ladders symbolize the connection between Heaven and Earth

From a religious perspective, the ladder was often seen as a bridge between Heaven and Earth.

This belief was built on the idea that Heaven and Earth were once united but later separated through various events specific to each religion.

However, humans still wanted to reconnect with the divine and sought to do this through various means, including the ladder.

In Shintoism, for instance, the Ladder of Heaven preserved the connection between the divine and the earthly realm.

This concept of a ladder connecting the earthly and the heavenly also resonates in Islamic tradition. Prophet Mohammed, in a dream, saw a ladder that the righteous climbed to reach God.

The Christian equivalent is Jacob’s Ladder. In the Book of Genesis, Jacob dreams of a ladder set upon the earth, reaching up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it.

Christ and the Cross have also been metaphorized as ladders in Christian theology, indicating a means for humanity to reach God.

Based on all these examples, ladders function as a conduit, a means of communication between mankind and God, or a path that lets mortals reach the divine realm.

The rungs of the ladder, often depicted as seven, eight, or twelve, are significant too. They correspond to the spiritual states one must pass through to reach Heaven.

These rungs also resonate with the seven or eight celestial circles of heaven and, in a mirrored reflection, the circles of hell.

Thus, the ladder in a dream can be seen as a symbol of communication between Heaven and Earth. It connects the earthly to the divine and represents the spiritual journey a soul must follow to reach the heavenly realm.

Dream ladders symbolize spiritual growth

Because of their religious role in connecting Heaven and Earth, ladders function as a profound spiritual symbol.

Thus, the ladder in dreams can symbolize your ability to “climb up” from the physical realm to a heightened level of spiritual consciousness or personal growth.

The physical process of climbing each step on a ladder represents your efforts to obtain a deeper understanding of not only yourself but also the universe around you.

In this case, the dream ladder is similar to the “Kadosch ladder” mentioned in Freemasonry, where passing from Earth to Heaven requires the navigation of seven cosmic stages.

However, ladders can also go down, not just up. Going down a ladder in a dream is a powerful symbol for the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Descending down the ladder may also suggest an exploration of your subconscious mind. In some cases, this can mean reliving personal trauma, which can associate ladder dreams with pain and anxiety.  

Occasionally, the ladder might symbolize death, but this is typically not a physical death. Instead, it’s the death of the old self or the old way of being, often referred to as “ego death” in spiritual literature.

This type of death signifies a dramatic personal transformation, a spiritual rebirth, where old beliefs, habits, and identities are shed to make way for a new, more evolved self.

Symbolism of ladder steps and rungs

The number of steps in a dream ladder often corresponds to a mystical number, such as seven, eight, or twelve.

In other situations, the number of steps on a ladder is equal to the dreamer’s years of life, where one step represents one year.

In this case, try to remember which step(s) of the ladder were most significant, since the dream may have tried to bring attention to that particular period of your life.

As mentioned previously, the ladder’s steps could also symbolize the challenges and difficulties you have to overcome in life before achieving success.

Finally, the steps on a ladder can represent certain stages of your personal, professional, or spiritual life.

Dreaming of descending or falling from a ladder

Dreams where you descend down a ladder have more complex meanings, and can mean anything from exploring your subconscious, resolving emotional turmoil, or abandoning a project for being too ambitious.

Similarly, falling down a ladder in dreams can mean unexpected difficulties or feelings of abandonment and betrayal.  

Descending down a ladder into a deep pit or well often symbolizes a journey into one’s subconscious depths in a process of self-discovery. The purpose of such dreams is to deal with and confront one’s repressed memories, traumas, or instincts.

On a different note, however, descending down a ladder from a burning building might symbolize a desire to escape emotional storms that are happening in real life.

Finally, going down a ladder could symbolize a need to return to reality and stop trying to “keep your head in the clouds” or chase unattainable goals.

Alternatively, descending a ladder could symbolize that your current project turns out to be less promising or beneficial than you initially thought.

Dreams where you fall down a ladder have their own symbolic meaning.

A common interpretation of dreams where you fall off ladders is that they function as warnings against arrogance and excessive ambition. In this case, falling off a ladder in dreams means you subconsciously think you’re overextending or burning yourself out in real life. So, the fall is a warning to protect yourself from yourself.

If the ladder breaks while you are on it, it may symbolize unexpected challenges or adversities that you may encounter in real life.

Dreaming of someone else falling off a ladder can represent emotions of abandonment and betrayal because that particular person has let you down.

Dream ladders as symbols of masculine energy

In a more narrow Freudian interpretation, ladders in dreams can symbolize sexual energies.

Firstly, the ladder, as a phallic symbol, could represent masculine qualities such as power, drive, and ambition.

In many societies, these traits are traditionally associated with the masculine gender. Climbing the ladder can be a metaphor for exercising these traits, representing the act of asserting oneself, taking charge, or striving for success.

To reach the top of the ladder, one needs to harness these qualities, so the dream can act as an encouragement for you to embrace such masculine energy and use it to achieve your goals.

Occasionally, a ladder may also be seen as a metaphor for an erection, a direct representation of masculine sexual arousal. This interpretation draws on the physical similarities between the ladder and the phallus, both in shape and in the idea of “rising” or “standing upright.”

Dreams of looking at or carrying ladders

It’s possible to have ladder dreams where you don’t actually climb or descend the ladders.

In this case, the ladder in your dream mostly refers to a distinct situation in your life.

When you dream about looking at a ladder, it suggests that you have been presented with an opportunity. This could be a chance for career advancement, a business opportunity, or some other beneficial development. It’s a call to action, urging you not to miss this potential for progress.

However, if the ladder you’re looking at in your dream is broken, it implies a different message.

A broken ladder can symbolize a faulty or misguided plan. The dream might be suggesting that you need to let go of a particular pursuit because persisting might lead to you falling off the ladder and harming yourself.

In this case, the broken ladder in the dream could represent a strategy or goal that is unachievable or damaging, encouraging you to reassess and reevaluate your plans.

In other situations, to dream that someone gives you a ladder (or that you see one lying around) can represent a solution to a painful or difficult problem.

Much like a ladder can provide a way to reach something otherwise out of reach, this symbol in your dream might suggest that you will find a way to resolve a troubling situation in your life. It’s a sign of hope, indicating that solutions are within your reach.

Finally, to dream that you are carrying a ladder suggests that you already possess the solution to a problem that is preoccupying you.

Just as carrying a ladder indicates the potential to climb out of a pit, this could symbolize that you have the necessary tools or knowledge to get out of your predicament.

You just need to apply them effectively. In this case, the ladder is an empowering symbol, implying that the key to your issue lies within you, and all you need to do is to put it into practice.


  • A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
  • A dictionary of symbols  by Chevalier, Jean
  • Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
  • A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
  • Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art by Hall, James
  • Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
  • Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
  • Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
  • The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
  • The dream dictionary from A to Z by Francis-Cheung, Theresa
  • 1001 dreams by Altman, Jack
  • The Watkins dictionary of dreams by Reading, Mario
  • Dictionary of dreams : interpretation and understanding by Colin, Didier
Atlas Mythica

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top