Samhain – a deeply rich opportunity for spiritual growth and magical transformation

The time of Halloween at the end of October is closely followed by Remembrance Sunday in which the dead of the bankers’ wars are commemorated. In this way, the powers-that-be have robbed us of a very important stage along the Wheel of the Year. They have transplanted one of their festivals on to our own which has great significance for our own Rivers of Blood, not just those symbolised by the red poppy. It used to be the time when the Celts marked Samhain, when the Pleiades began to set. Samhain was a time when we honoured all our ‘dead’ – in other words, we remembered all our ancestors now living in the Other Worlds.

We’re now starting to celebrate Samhain again, in this way. We light candles in sacred ceremony and say our family names out loud, so that their existence can honoured by all the beings, in all dimensions, who reside here in this hallowed faery ring of the Isle of Glass, and then they’re able to pass on in peace.

I personally find that taking part in these kinds of ceremonies to be enormously moving, and it seems to facilitate a huge leap forward in my spiritual understanding and progress. By lighting a candle and saying the names of my family ‘dead’ out loud, giving thanks for their lives, and in such a sacred space, seems to have opened up gates that had been previously closed, and pathways that had become blocked with overgrowth, for hundreds of years.

The timing of Halloween

Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, was so named because it was, and still is, the time that the spiritual adept faces their own death by going down into the UnderWorld in pursuit of the ‘hallows’, which are the accoutrements of individual sovereignty.

The ancient Celts used to mark this time, which they called Samhain, to coincide with the Pleiades setting in the night skies. To us, this is a time when we honour all our ‘dead’ – in other words, we remember and celebrate the lives of all our ancestors now living in the Other Worlds

Halloween or Samhaim is the counterpart fire festival to Beltane which we celebrated on May Day. Beltane is timed to coincide with the rising of the Pleiades; at Samhain, that constellation is setting. Both Beltane and Samhain are fire festivals, however, Samhain is its polar opposite because it is one which is about restriction rather than opening up, and renunciation rather than fertility and growth, as we cast into the cauldron all that no longer serves our progress as a spirit passing along the human journey.


In lighting a candle and naming our ‘dead’, we are in effect allowing our ancestors to pass through, and on to the next stage of their journeys. It’s a form of renunciation … in a way, of cognitively giving them back to the Source by the power of our intention.

Renunciation can often seem a difficult concept to get our heads around. Also, the idea of ‘restriction’ can appear to be the exact opposite of what our freedom-searching natures are trying to achieve. However, as anyone who has ever thrown away their old books or clothes or lipsticks in an effort to follow the feng-shui practice of ‘space clearing’ will tell you, it is only in letting go of old stuff that we can “make room” for the new.

It is just like in the natural world, when flowers and plants die off and the soil becomes barren and cold. This “downtime” is a necessary part of Mother Nature’s cycles, so that She can rest and regenerate and then bloom again in the Spring.

As we are part of Nature, and not separate to it, it is opportunity for us too, to withdraw into ourselves and remain more in contemplation by our flaming hearths, examining and discarding that which we longer need and which is holding back our spiritual growth. In releasing our ancestors, we also release their ‘baggage’ which has been weighing us down.

For me, Samhain has always been a time of enormous power and potential precisely because of the opportunity it provides for renunciation. I’ve seen work that I’ve done at Samhain move mountains. I hope you do too!

The Sacred Sex Rites of Ishtar

Shamanic sexual healing and sex magic

Shamans and high priestesses in Neolithic times were in touch with the spirits of the land, and so were able to transmit their wisdom to the king or pharaoh in sacred sex rites during his coronation night. These became known as the Sovereignty rites, because they fired up the king’s higher brain centres, giving him a superior intelligence and thus the ability and the right to reign.

Our ancestors have left us magical keys in their orally passed on myths which, like messages in a bottle, can help us find the way to spark up that wisdom again, in ourselves.

Ishtar Babilu Dingir is a shaman and mythologist who is regularly in communion with the spirits of the land. In The Sacred Sex Rites of Ishtar, she has laid out the way for the ordinary person to ignite their own route to Sovereignty through shamanic sexual practises and also by learning to communicate with the spirits of the land.



  1. Tim Lohrentz

    Ishtar, good luck chucking the flotsam and jetsam. Samhain/Halloween is really interesting here in California because half of its roots are in Samhain and the other half are in some ancient Aztec ceremony which gave way to the Aztec-Catholic Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. It’s a fascinating mixture. Tim


  2. wódr̥

    Couple three strands of the cloth of my awareness around and about this . . . .

    Starting with neurons, those spidery looking things all joined together by one seemingly random leg or another. Billions of them inside my skull-box. But incomplete, unless you consider all the “empty” space they encompass. The immeaurable space in-between.

    Expand, then, to the billions of stars and the measureless expanse of “empty” space in-between.

    So strides the fractal: the finite, infinite – the infinite, finite.

    But getting back to the neurons; they are the way of air,earth, fire, water in me. The mid-world.

    And all that empty space, the space in-between? Not empty at all. There, exactly, live the spiritual ex-stasis and the archetypal memories. Immaterial in the truest sense, or senses.

    Guilt and fear tend to take up residence in the space-between, coagulating episode by episode until it is plugged, blocked, jammed. It is exactly like suffocating . . . . the spiritual and archetypal cannot breathe to sing, or to live.

    And so there is another kind of fire – which I don’t really have a name for – which I can kindle and which burns out all the trash filling the space-between. Not that I am by any means a master of this; all I have at this point is a beginner’s mind, and not often enough.

    But it is a start.

    That’s my Samhain.



  3. holmesesq

    Ishtar, this is a simple and somewhat frivolous question and perhaps has a simple answer. Celtic Holy Days, Feasts and Festivities appear to me to be established to reflect or align with the seasons of the year. But while you are experiencing a shortening of days and lowering of temperatures in your Autumn, we in the southern hemisphere are celebrating the arrival of Spring. We are therefore “out of time” with celebrations that involve warm fires and the onset of winter. So the question is, should we follow our own seasonal changes when (for example) putting our free-flowing guilt on the fire? By the way, many of our season’s greeting cards for the December holidays shows scenes of snow, a bit daft when we are having a day at the beach!


    • Ishtar Babilu Dingir

      Very good point, Tony. This is a festival that’s associated with the Celts, and while the jury’s still out about where in Asia they originally came from, I don’t think there was ever any doubt that they were always in the northern hemisphere. So the indigenous peoples of South Africa would have different times for their celebrations although I’m sure say, the Bantu, would still have their festivals on similarly arrived at astronomical events. For example, both Samhain and Beltaine are timed to coincide with the setting and rising of the Pleiades, respectively. So what would be really interesting would be for you to do some research about indigeous African practises, to see if they do anything tied in with the movements of the Pleiades or any other star groups, and then report back to us. Otherwise, if you are truly a Celt who’s a long way from home, I don’t know what to suggest you do apart from come over here for a holiday on Samhain. If you do, remember your scarf and gloves!


  4. Tony Duncan


    What exactly is our archetypal memory and how does it manifest? Is it some kind of spiritual essence that has no material aspect? if so how do you differentiate it from the guilt and fear that DOES come from concrete acts in that persons life? What is the gestation of this guilt, that has no good use whatsoever? In my understanding of buddhist, hindu, and Sufi mystics, there is nothing that I can relate it to. Kal, while treated as a demon in the west, has his crucial role in maintaining the path toward enlightenment.
    fortunately I saved my full text, as I guessed you might edit my comment. While I can understand you editing my analysis of your specific examples, you deleted some of the crucial points that relate to the importance of guilt and fear regardless of the material or astral source. As I explained there can be no balance if ones morality only comes from joy and love, for there can be no real joy or love unless they are part of a harmonious dichotomy.
    in my personal life, I can certainly tell you that removing the intense repression on those negative feelings is what allowed me to be more open and accept the REAL feelings of love and joy into my heart. Those replaced the false caricatures of the feelings that I had grown up with. And it was the act of dealing with the complexities of the negative feelings that diminished my guilt and fear by an order of magnitude, so that they no longer control my life. The link you posted has some interesting ideas in it, but I don’t see anything in it that contradicts what I consider to be the valid points I was making.
    One of the crucial points I made that you edited, was that those whose lives HAVE been controlled by fear and guilt may need a period of freedom from those feelings in order to re-establish balance. If those are the people you are addressing, I can see why you would not want to include parts of what I wrote.
    I will stop here so you don’t have to edit for length 🙂


    • Ishtar Babilu Dingir

      Tony, you probably need to read quite a lot more articles on this blog to know where I’m coming from. The archetypal memory is something that shamans encounter, otherwise known as the Akasha. I’m not a psychologist. Shamans do see things quite differently to others and the sort of people that follow this blog are also of a similar understanding because they’ve had similar encounters through meditation and the shamanic trance state and they’ve worked through their issues in that way, often with the help of spirit guides. It’s not really something that can be argued about in terms of what’s right or wrong. I’m glad you found a way to deal with your false caricatures and negative feelings which worked for you. I’m talking about another way.


  5. Ishtar Babilu Dingir

    Tony, you’ve missed the point. I’m talking about trasmutation not suppression. And I’m referring to free-floating guilt which has no label on it and is not associated with any one act because we inherited it with our archetypal memory.That sort of guilt has no good use whatsoever. A sense of morality which comes from joy and love rather than guilt or fear is far more productive.


  6. Tony Duncan


    I fully agree with you that living a life and acting almost exclusively on feelings of guilt and fear are extremely limiting and can lead to destructive consequences. While I certainly have a ways to go, I have removed many layers and have subsequently discovered and am firm in my belief that I am an amazing person capable of taking in the richness of the natural world and of the people around me.
    However both guilt and fear are real feelings and have very valid applications. Fear allows us to react to situations that could be dangerous to us, and to either avoid them or focus in order to get out of them. Being clear on what situations do warrant fear and learning how to respond appropriately is the important thing.
    It is similar with guilt. I agree that much guilt comes from artificial socially induced oppressive mantels that are laid on us from a very young age. Still the actual feeling has real validity and it is important to be aware of situations that warrant looking at whether guilt feelings are valid or not. Our moral sense needs to have joy, compassion, fear and guilt as guideposts for behavior.
    Karma does not disappear because one throws away feelings of guilt. If you betray or ignore a friend in need, that can be a valid source of guilt. But that feeling is one that can lead to genuine contrition and actions to put things right.



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