from The Century Dictionary.
- Steps or stairs leading up to an altar.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
"In Memoriam," read aright, leads one upward "upon the great world's altar-stairs that slope through darkness up to God".
He lived and moved and had his being in the sanctuary of the hills, the high altar-stairs of the mountains, the sublime silences of the stately pines — where birds sung their matins and the “stars became tapers tall”; where the zitkada_n_to — the blue bird — uttered its ravishing notes.
He made for the Canaanitish city of Luz, the Beth-el of later days, where he had seen the great altar-stairs sloping upward to heaven.