I was thinking of writing this post after the second season of Outlander. However, due to the massive sharing of a related post, Claire as a Half-Ghost (Asgina Ageli), I decided to write it to demonstrate that it is possible for Claire to be a ghost, a half-ghost and a time-traveller at the same time. Of course the main topic of this post is not Claire but Roger MacKenzie. Furthermore, I would like to mention that all my posts are speculative. My speculations and interpretations are what make my Outlander posts different. I offer outside-of-the-norm perspectives and theories that only the author can confirm. However, I doubt that she will ever confirm anything since it is more enjoyable to have the readers discuss the series. Here is the description of a half-ghost according to Stephen Bonnet.
Asgina ageli is a term that the red savages employ – the Cherokee of the mountains; I heard it from one I had as guide one time. It means ‘half-ghost,’ one who should have died by right, but yet remains on the earth; a woman who survives a mortal illness, a man fallen into his enemies’ hands who escapes. They say an asgina ageli has one foot on the earth and the other in the spirit world. He can talk to the spirits and see the Nunnahee – the Little People. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 2)
The evidence of Roger being a half-ghost, an asgina ageli, is detailed in The Fiery Cross. The following passage is the description of the Hanged Man. I used this reference in my essay. However, the discussion that will follow is not included in my published work since I finished reading the whole series recently.
“A man is suspended by one foot from a pole laid across two trees. His arms, folded behind his back, together with his head, form a triangle with the point downward; his legs form a cross. To an extent, the Hanged Man is still earthbound, for his foot is attached to the pole.”
I could see the man on the card, suspended permanently halfway between heaven and earth. That card always looked odd to me – the man didn’t seem to be at all concerned, in spite of being upside-down and blind-folded (The Fiery Cross, ch. 73).
This is the description that one of Brianna’s friend, a Tarot reader, gives her in a dream. Both Brianna and her father, Jamie, are blessed with second sight. In this dream Brianna is simply notified that Roger, as the Hanged Man, has to undergo a transformation process, a topic that I wrote about in detail in my published essay.
Basically Roger fulfills the requirements of being a half-ghost. He survives being hanged in book 5. If it was not for Claire’s twentieth century medical knowledge and the quality of the rope, he would have perished. Furthermore, he survived the incident in which both his grandmother and mother died. He does not remember clearly the details behind this event but he realizes at certain point that it was his mother who saved him.
The following segment is what I did not discuss in my published essay since its scope included mainly three books, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
In Moby, there is the scene in which Roger and Black Brian are at Lallybroch’s study. In this scene, Roger is in shock because of the realization that he went further back in time than what he originally intended. Basically he is about to faint, and the following passage reflects what is in his mind.
The shelves were the same, and behind his host’s head was the same row of farm ledgers that he’d often thumbed through, conjuring up from their faded entries the phantom life of an earlier Lallybroch. Now the ledgers were new, and Roger felt himself the phantom. He didn’t like the feeling at all (MOBY, ch. 29).
For somebody of the twentieth century, a person from the past is a ghost. Throughout the first part of book 8, Roger is communicating with characters who will die in months or in a few years. Basically, he is communicating with “ghosts.” Based on this interpretation, time-travellers are always communicating with ghosts. However, in the above passage, everything has shifted. Roger is the one that is out of place. Therefore he sees himself as a ghost. This confirms basically that time-travellers in the series can also have “ghostly” characteristics. Another traveler that is out-of-place in the same time frame is Geillis. Here is the description of her accent according to Angus MacLaren, and Roger’s thought about it.
. . . She had the Gàidhlig. I’d have said she came from somewhere up northwest of Inverness – maybe Thurso – but there again . . . it wasna quite . . . right.”
Not quite right. Like someone out of their proper place, pretending (MOBY, ch. 39).
This passage further perpetrates the notion that time-travellers do feel like “ghosts” when they are out of their proper time. In this case, Geillis is perceived as different and also “odd” like Claire.
MacLaren said somehow word got round that the woman was something that wee bit odd – a root doctor, but maybe would give you a bit more than a grass cure, if you found her alone in the house . . . (MOBY, ch. 39)
This quote demonstrates the fact of Geillis being a white lady like Claire. The “bit more” probably refers to sexual intercourse. For those who have not read my post about white colour symbolism and the oddness associated with it, here is the link: Symbolism of Claire’s Colour.
The MacLarens consider Roger a ghost. In fact, the chapter in which the “ghostly” nature of Roger is described is called “The Ghost of a Hangit Man.” Angus MacLaren is scared of him.
“Why come ye here, a thaibse?” he said, fists clenched but his voice low. “Whatever sin I might have done, I did naught to you. I’d nay part in your death – and I said they must bury your body beneath the hearthstone before they fired the place. The priest wouldna have ye in the kirkyard, aye?” he added, evidently fearing that the ghost of the hangit man had come to complain about the unsanctified disposal of his mortal remains (MOBY, ch. 39).
Angus MacLaren calls Roger “ghost” in Scottish Gaelic. They think he is Geillis’s victim back from the dead. The MacLarens also put salt in Roger’s porridge. Keep in mind that salt is used to keep a ghost at bay. In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, there is the scene in which Claire experiences a flashback, her intimate contact with King Louis. She is terrified and Jamie gives her salt in order to keep the ghost in the grave (ch. 54). This reflects the superstitious beliefs of people who live in the countryside.
Of interest is the interaction between Dougal MacKenzie and Roger. Of course, Dougal comes to meet Roger to confirm whether he is a ghost or not.
. . . He had deep-set hazel eyes, which looked Roger over with frank interest – and a faint touch of what appeared to be amusement . . . (MOBY, ch. 40)
Dougal’s remark in Gaelic to MacLaren is written to imply in a subtle manner the nature of ghosts: “Don’t trouble, friend; they’re nay more ghosts than the lads and I are.” (MOBY,ch. 40) Of course, what is explicitly stated is that Roger is alive and has never been dead. However, there is a double meaning to this comment. Dougal is confirming that he and the clan members accompanying him are ghosts. In this way, he is confirming that Roger is also a ghost. This brings to mind again the notion that being in the past and talking to people in the past is like communicating with ghosts.
Of interest is Dougal’s final question to Roger whether he is an angel or not. This is related to an earlier remark done by William Buccleigh Mackenzie: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, . . . for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (MOBY, ch. 40). Roger’s thought after answering “no” to Dougal is revealing: And it isn’t you that’s talking to a ghost (MOBY, ch. 40).
The evidence presented in this post demonstrates that time-travellers have ghostly characteristics and that they are seen differently by people in the past. Claire is seen as a witch (and even as a fairy too). Roger is seen as a ghost. Furthermore, time-travellers in the past are always communicating with ghosts. They know what will happen to these people, but they feel that it is better not to say much about their future.
I will continue writing about Dragonfly in Amber and two fashion posts in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading my blog.
Gabaldon, Diana. A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 2005. New York: Bantam Dell. 2006. Print.
– – – . Drums of Autumn. 1997. New York: Dell Publishing. 2002. Print.
– – -. The Fiery Cross. 2001. New York: Bantam Dell. 2005. Print.
—. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. 2014. New York: Bantam Books. 2015. Print