After finishing reading Drums of Autumn recently, many thoughts about Claire have been circulating in my mind. The concept of Claire as an asgina ageli is one of them. Here is a description of an asgina ageli 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)
There is evidence in Drums of Autumn that identifies Claire as an Asgina ageli. Claire is able to communicate with spirits. The best instance of this is that of the aboriginal time traveller. Basically, she sees the ghost of this time traveller; she acknowledges it as something supernatural immediately. Of course, she is scared initially until she realizes that she has had some sort of communication with the spectral entity.
“Whatever do you want?” I said, and only then realized that we had been in some sort of communication for some time. Whatever this was, it had no words. Nothing coherent passed between us – but something passed, nonetheless. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 23)
Nothing moved, no words were spoken. But quite clearly the thought formed in my mind, in a voice that was not my own.
That’s enough, it said. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 23)
Another instance of Claire being able to communicate with spirits is when she is discussing with her daughter, Brianna, how to go back to the 20th Century. Due to Brianna’s pregnancy, Claire suggests Abandawe, the cave in Haiti, in order to avoid the long trip to Scotland. This conversation leads to the topic of Geillis, and, of course, Claire remembering her.
Sometimes I thought of her, of Geillis, when I was alone in the forest. Sometimes I thought I heard her voice behind me, and turned around swiftly, but saw no more than the hemlock branches, soughing in the wind. But now and then I felt her eyes on me, green and bright as the springtime wood. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 45)
It seems that Claire is able to establish some contact with the realm of the dead. The interesting aspect of this is that it is something that she was not able to do before. I think this is a set of skills that comes with aging. Both Ishmael and Nayawenne confirmed that Claire’s power would increase after her last menstrual cycle.
My husband’s grandmother says that you have medicine now, but you will have more. When your hair is white like hers, that is when you will find your full power. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 20)
“A woman bleeds, she kill magic. You bleed, got your woman-power, the magic don’t work for you. The old women do magic; witch someone, call the loas, make sick, make well.” He gave me a long appraising look, and shook his head. (Voyager, ch. 61)
Concerning Nayawenne, Claire also has an interaction with her similar to the one she will have with the aboriginal time traveller. Of course, the only difference is that Nayawenne is alive during this interaction.
I had the odd feeling that she was talking to me – and I to her – without the exchange of a single spoken word. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 20)
This similarity of interaction used by both aboriginal characters may be a foreshadowing device for Nayawenne’s death later on. Personally I hope that Claire establishes contact with Nayawenne in subsequent books. My optimism about this is based on the following comment made by Pollyanne (translated by Young Ian):
“She says that in that case the ghost walks with you, Auntie. She says you should not show it to anyone here – they will be frightened.” (Drums of Autumn, ch. 53)
Claire is also able to establish communication with Frank, somebody who will die in the future, after the birth of her grandson. Here is what Claire says to Jamie before going to sleep after the big event of that day.
“So am I – Grandpa. Hush up and go to sleep. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'” (Drums of Autumn, ch. 64)
Claire realizes that the last quotation was used by Frank to soothe both her and Brianna. Claire even tries to communicate with Frank.
“Do you know?” I whispered, soundless. “Do you know she has a son?” (Drums of Autumn, ch. 64)
Communication with Frank continues into the first chapter of The Fiery Cross. It seems that time does not exist in this form of communication and that it is possible for Claire to establish contact with any entity from the past or future.
Shouldn’t I come to see her married?
I couldn’t tell whether the words had formed themselves in my thoughts, or whether they – and that kiss -were merely the product of my own subconscious. (The Fiery Cross, ch. 1)
I guess that part of this communication between Claire and her first husband is due to his sudden death. There were things in their relationship that required sincerity and clarification and that never took place.
Which event in Claire’s life is the one in which she could had died but survived? I think it is when she miscarried Faith. She was feverish for a while and nothing seemed to work until Master Raymond cured her.
But I was large enough, healthy as well – and twenty-five years before, I had lost a stillborn child at six months, and nearly died myself. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 64)
Going through the stones is also dangerous; not everybody survives the passage, and Claire, in this case, is exceptional since she has made it alive three times so far. Of course, opinions may vary here but I am open and flexible to them.
There are also other characters that could qualify as asgina ageli. I will be discussing them in more detail in subsequent posts.
Gabaldon, Diana. Voyager. New York: Bantam Dell. 1994. Print
Gabaldon, Diana. Drums of Autumn. New York: Dell Publishing. 1997. Print.
Gabaldon, Diana. The Fiery Cross. New York: Bantam Dell. 2001. Print.