This is the third of a series of Outlander posts concerning characters with some sort of mystical qualities. For all readers of this post, I suggest reading a related post:
Basically Claire meets all the attributes of a half-ghost. When it comes to Jamie, it is harder to determine whether he fulfills all the characteristics for him to be considered a half-ghost. My goal is to detail the evidence and evaluate it.
Here is again 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 a 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)
Before moving forward with my post, I would like to share a thread published at Outlander Book Club which is related to this topic. It is about Jamie’s nine lives. I have not contributed to this thread, but it details several cases in which Jamie escapes from a dire situation or a near-death experience. This thread is not spoiler-free.
It is interesting that Jamie and Claire hear the description of a half-ghost from Bonnet but never identify themselves as such.
“Aye, well, perhaps. I’ve come close to death by hanging, and I didna like the waiting a bit. I’ve nearly been killed in battle a few times; I canna say I was much concerned about the dying then, though, bein’ too busy to think of it. And then I’ve nearly died of wounds and fever, and that was misery enough that I was looking forward verra keenly to being dead. But on the whole, given my choice about it, I think perhaps I wouldna mind dying in my sleep, no.”
He leaned over and kissed me lightly. “Preferably in bed, next to you. At a verra advanced age, mind.” He touched his tongue delicately to my lips, then rose to his feet, brushing dried oak leaves from his breeks. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 15)
Based on the evidence detailed about Jamie having nine lives, it seems that he might get his wish of dying beside Claire at an old age.
The evidence supporting Jamie’s abilities of communicating with the spirit world is highly speculative. This communication is likely to be through visions and dreams.
One event that is worth mentioning is when Jamie meets Adso II, the cat, in The Fiery Cross. He is riding Gideon, the “wild” horse, and then suddenly he comes to this particular location that he refers to as the “Place”. The author capitalizes this word to give some meaning or something special to it. Both Jamie and Gideon feel relaxed and charmed by this “Place”. At the same time, it seems that Jamie has encountered this type of places before.
He thought of such places in a way that had no words, only recognizing one when he came to it. He might have called it holy, save that the feel of such a place had nothing to do with church or saint. It was simply a place he belonged to be, and that was sufficient, though he preferred to be alone when he found one. He let the reins go slack across the horse’s neck. Not even a thrawn-minded creature like Gideon would give trouble here, he felt. (The Fiery Cross, ch. 13)
Quite suddenly, he had a vision of his mother, one of the small vivid portraits that his mind hoarded, producing them unexpectedly in response to God knew what – a sound, a smell, some passing freak of memory.(The Fiery Cross, ch. 13)
It seems that these particular visions are memory-based. The following quotes from Drums of Autumn are revealing, and they reference the preservation of good moments and relationships regardless of time.
Jamie stood quite still, feeling his heart beat, watching. It was one of those strange moments that came to him rarely, but never left. A moment that stamped itself on heart and brain, instantly recallable in every detail, for all of his life. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 27)
But these – the still moments, as he called them to himself – they came with no warning, to print a random image of the most common things inside his brain, indelible. They were like the photographs that Claire had brought him, save that the moments carried with them more than vision. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 27)
He had one of his father, smeared and muddy, sitting on the wall of a cow byre, a cold Scottish wind lifting his dark hair. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 27)
He had such glimpses of Claire, of his sister, of Ian….small moments clipped out of time and perfectly preserved by some odd alchemy of memory, fixed in his mind like an insect in amber. And now he had another. (Drums of Autumn, ch. 27)
When having this vision based on a memory, Jamie feels at peace and contented, and there is no vocal communication between him and his mother. Afterwards he says a prayer and spills some alcohol (whiskey very likely) on the ground. Then he finds Adso who bites him. His finger bleeds and he decides to do an offering of his blood to the spirits of this “Place”.
He shook the blood drop from his finger onto the leaves, and offering to join the dram he had spilled, a gift onto the leaves, and offering to join the dram he had spilled, a gift to the spirits of this Place – who had evidently made up their minds to offer him a gift, themselves.(The Fiery Cross, ch. 13).
This whole scene is a mystical experience. It is likely that Jamie has some sort of communication with the spirits of the “Place.” The gift or gifts the spirits give him are the cat and peace via his mother’s vision. The blood offering reminds me a little bit of the holiness of Jamie’s and Claire’s wedding vows – the Gaelic version in which the blood was withdrawn. It also brings to mind the Catholic belief of transubstantiation to a certain extent. It is also interesting to note that the cat is named after a monk (not a saint), Adso of Melk.
Later on in The Fiery Cross, the reader is given some interesting details. There is a spring near the Fraser’s house. Jamie at certain point rolled a large boulder to this spring and carved a cross on it. This location seems to be another instance of a “Place.” There is something ritualistic going on when he is naked and washing himself.
The act of washing oneself in this obsessive way serves to focus the mind and prepare the spirit; one is washing away external preoccupation, sloughing petty distraction, just as surely as one scrubs away germs and dead skin.(The Fiery Cross, ch. 17)
The interesting thing about this ritual is the following description from Claire’s point of view.
Jamie said something aloud in Gaelic. It sounded like a challenge – or perhaps a greeting. The words seemed vaguely familiar – but there was no one there; the clearing was empty. The air felt colder, as though the light had dimmed; a cloud crossing the face of the sun, I thought, and looked up – but there were no clouds; the sky was clear. Jemmy moved suddenly in my arms, startled, and I clutched him tighter, willing him to make no sound.
Then the air stirred, the cold faded, and my sense of apprehension passed. Jamie hadn’t moved. Now the tension went out of him too, and his shoulder relaxed. (The Fiery Cross, ch. 18)
The reader may think that Jamie is praying in this particular case. However, the change in the environment suggests that there is something mystical or supernatural going on. A little bit after he draws blood from his right hand’s fingers.
He waited a moment for the blood to well up, then shook his hand with a sudden hard flick of the wrist, so that droplets of blood flew from his fingers and struck the standing stone at the head of the pool. (The Fiery” Cross, ch. 18)
I think this last quote confirms that this pool / spring is a “Place” to Jamie. He is also doing an offering to the spirits at this location due to the changes in the surroundings that both Claire and Jemmy experience. Later on the reader discovers that Jamie was calling Dougal and that he shouted “Tulach Ard!”, the war cry of Clan MacKenzie. It seems he offered his blood to Dougal.
“I made my peace wi’ Dougal long ago.” (The Fiery Cross, ch. 18).
The end result of this vision or interaction seems to be peace for Jamie. Was Jamie able to communicate with Dougal? The reader might not be able to answer this question since more information will be required, and this event was written from Claire’s point of view. However, it is highly probable that he is a half-ghost due to this confirmation.
Jamie may use dreams to communicate too. In Drums of Autumn he does it often with his daughter before meeting her. In my last Outlander post, it was discussed that Brianna was able to communicate with her biological father via an intermediary, Margaret Campbell. Here is the link.
Brianna mentions that in her dream she was calling for her mother but it was her father, Jamie, who heard her. Since both Brianna and Jamie are alive during this event in Voyager, this is reminiscent of the communication that happened between Claire and Nayawenne when they first met each other (both characters were also alive at that time). There are certain differences though but it is a clear indication that both Brianna and Jamie may have potential to communicate not only with spirits but also with the living via dreams.
My next posts will be a series of Addenda to some already published posts. It is basically extra information that supports some of the different ideas that I have discussed in former posts. Once the second half of first season starts, I will be including a lot of character parallels to some of the episodes’ highlights that I sometimes write about.
Featured image is from Outlander TV News.
Gabaldon, Diana. Drums of Autumn. New York: Dell Publishing. 1997. Print.
Gabaldon, Diana. The Fiery Cross. New York: Bantam Dell. 2001. Print.