Saturday, January 23, 2016

Outlander: Symbolism of the Blue Colour, How It Relates to Claire, and Jamie’s Ghost

 Adoring Outlander

Editor's Note:  This is a post by our friend, Stella Murillo, from her blog Porcelain Thunderbird, reprinted with her permission.  

On a personal note, we're so proud to announce that one of her essays will be published in  the upcoming book Adoring Outlander, Edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Here is the link if you would like to order your copy in advance!


Outlander: Symbolism of the Blue Colour, How It Relates to Claire, and Jamie’s Ghost

This post is an idea that came to me while discussing Dragonfly in Amber on Twitter. The association between Claire and the blue colour was brought up to me by one of the ladies who manages Outlander Central. Since then, I decided to delve further into this topic. The featured image is a “Montana Sapphire” by Orbital Joe (Flickr Creative Commons).

The Fearless Stone

In my last post (about Jamie’s colour), I discussed the fact that both Hector McEwan and Master Raymond heal by touching and by emanating a blue light. There are many instances in later books in which Claire is transmitting this life / healing energy represented by the blue light. I think the time in which she would be able to heal by just touching is coming. Her first meeting with the Tuscarora shaman Nayawenne is the first instance in which Claire is associated with the blue colour (at least as a healer and not as a patient). Nayawenne relates a dream in which Claire becomes a white raven giving rise or “birth” to a gemstone:

“The white raven flew back, and laid an egg in the palm of her hand. The egg split open, and there was a shining stone inside. My husband’s grandmother knew this was magic, that the stone could heal sickness.” (Drums of Autumn, ch. 20)

Nayawenne subsequently finds a sapphire which she associates with the dream and calls it the fearless stone. This dream not only establishes the association between Claire and the blue colour but also the notion that the healing powers that she will acquire would be seen as supernatural or unexplainable. One must keep in mind that white animals are seen as otherworldly because of their rarity, and considered messengers from the spiritual world. The raven presence is indicative of good news due to its white colour, which means peace and happiness in the shamanistic system. At the same time, the comment that Nayawenne makes at the end of their conversation brings a feeling of unease to Claire.

“She says you must not be troubled; sickness is sent from the gods. It won’t be your fault.” (Drums of Autumn, ch. 20)
This comment foreshadows what will happen to the Tuscarora around the Fraser’s Ridge area. They eventually are forced to leave their settlements and move north due to disease in addition to Nayawenne’s disappearance due to murder. The comment may also be a reference to Claire’s failed attempt in saving Malva’s child. In this case, the blue light is in action but the life force being transmitted is not strong enough to save him. Of course, Claire feels frustrated and sad about this incident.

Here are more revealing comments that Gabrielle translated on behalf of Nayawenne to Claire in regards to the aforementioned sapphire and her healing abilities (Drums of Autumn, 20):

“My father’s grandmother says a stone like this, it keeps people from being afraid, and so it makes their spirit strong, so they will be healed more easily. Already, this stone has healed two people of fever, and cured a soreness of the eyes that my younger brother had.”

“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.”

These observations reveal two interesting details:

  • The sapphire seems to be the equivalent of the blue light emanating from healers such as Master Raymond and Hector McEwan.
  • Nayawenne makes it clear that Claire would have the same healing abilities that Master Raymond and Hector McEwan possess but at an older age.

In regards to the last point, Ishmael makes a similar comment in Voyager which explains why Claire has not been able to develop the ability to heal by touching or transferring energy earlier.

“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)

Claire can only heal in the meantime using her 20th century knowledge. In The Fiery Cross, there is a reference to her having infrequent periods. Furthermore, it seems that the blue light on her hands appears in A Breath of Snow and Ashes for the first time. In An Echo in the Bone, Jamie tells Claire that “there’s maybe one hair in fifty that’s gone white” (ch. 8), and that there is still more silver than white on her head. The requirement for the full white hair is still unfulfilled.

The Blue Flutterby

In book 7, there is a particular chapter called “Flutterby” (ch. 22). In this chapter, Claire relates that Jamie has been dreaming about Brianna and the children. These dreams usually leaves him “peaceful and happy.” They are “white dreams.” However, this is not the case in this particular dream; Claire is not comfortable about it. Jamie perceives the presence of the “nuckelavee” at the end. In the dream, Jamie sees the kids running on Lallybroch’s burial ground. A butterfly accompanies Jem and Mandy:

“A flutterby came with them,” he said suddenly. “I’d forgot that. A blue one.”

“Blue? Are there blue butterflies in Scotland?” I frowned, trying to remember. Such butterflies as I’d ever noticed had tended to be white or yellow, I thought.

Jamie gave me a look of mild exasperation.

“It’s a dream, Sassenach. I could have flutterbys wi’ tartan wings, and I liked.”

There are many cases in the Outlander series in which a symbol is given but written in a way to cause distraction from it. In this case, there is an element of humour to distract the reader. In The Fiery Cross, the meaning of the white mare is hidden by sexual desire. However, the blue butterfly is of significance since even the chapter is named after it. I accidentally came across a book that possibly might explain its meaning. The blue butterfly is a reference to a healer.

. . . White butterflies are very lucky when seen, while brown ones are unlucky. If a yellow butterfly flies over a coffin, the soul has passed safely to the Otherworld. A blue butterfly signifies that the deceased was a healer. A white butterfly signifies a good person, a dark butterfly a bad person. Butterflies represent transformation and must never be killed (Evert Hopman, 210).
Since the children are playing on the burial ground, it is possible to theorize that Claire might be buried at Lallybroch. Another interpretation is that Claire’s spirit is actually playing with her grandchildren in the future.

How does the blue butterfly relate to the TV show’s blue vase or even the forget-me-nots? Claire has been moving around throughout the whole series. In the first episode, Claire establishes a relationship between the blue vase and staying in one place as opposed to wandering. Later, Claire is given a blue vase at Lallybroch. Is Lallybroch Claire’s final resting place? I am not an expert in forget-me-nots, but I think they are associated with Claire’s wandering due to her interest in herbs and healing. A good link about them is here.

Information about forget-me-nots and other outlandish stuff

Jamie’s Second Sight

Chapter 22,”Flutterby”, is associated with the former one, “The Minister’s Cat” (Chapter 21). Here are some details of interest:

  • Brianna is looking for both Jemmy and Mandy. She is walking exactly on the burying grounds. The gravestones are weathered to the point that the names and dates are not legible.
  • Of note are the colours used to describe Jemmy and Mandy when she finds them:
…And amidst the splashes of gray, black-green, and deep purple were two small moving splotches of red and blue.

  • Mandy wanders off and starts having a conversation with an invisible companion, who turns out to be Jamie. Brianna considers it a possibility, and wonders whether Claire would be buried there.
  • Brianna remembers that her grandparents Brian and Ellen were buried together under a marriage stone. She is looking for a similar burial for her parents.
  • Jemmy mentions that Jamie would have loved to be buried in Lallybroch. He has built a cairn at the crest of a hill (Jamie likes high places).
  • Mandy is having a tea party with invisible guests.
  • Jemmy thinks Mandy can see Jamie.
  • Brianna’s sensation of her parents is interesting at this moment.
. . . She didn’t want to ask whether he could see Claire – she supposed not – but she felt her parents close, whenever Jem or Mandy mentioned them, and she certainly wanted Jem and Mandy to feel close to them, as well.

Will Jamie and Claire be buried at Lallybroch? So far there is text evidence for Claire. The colours given to the children gives the reader an idea of whom they will resemble in the future. In the following chapter Jamie tells Claire that Mandy reminds him of her: “God, she’s a feisty wee baggage! She minds me o’ you, Sassenach” (An Echo in the Bone, ch. 22). It seems that Mandy is not only able to see Jamie but communicate with him. One wonders whether he is one of the invisible guests at the tea party. Mandy also resembles Claire physically in the curls, in the mouth and shape of the eyes (An Echo in the Bone, ch.22). Will Mandy be a healer like her grandmother?

It is possible that Jamie established some communication with Mandy. Because he was dreaming, he probably does not remember the details. In both Voyager and Drums of Autumn, there is evidence that communication was established between him and Brianna via an intermediary, Margaret Campbell. A year ago, I wrote a detailed post about this, and the link is at the end of this one.

There is only one interesting detail that I would like to share. Jamie also has OBEs (out-of-body experiences). It is well known that OBEs occur in a dreaming state (more details to come on this in a few weeks). Basically, he is able to create an astral body and transfer his consciousness to it. One wonders whether the ghost that Frank sees in Outlander is actually real or Jamie’s astral body projection. There is evidence for this in A Breath of Snow and Ashes – the scene in which Jamie reveals that he has seen Claire in the future (ch. 68).

. . . “That’s it. Ye were sitting at a desk, with something in your hand, maybe writing. And there was light all round ye, shining on your face, on your hair. But it wasna candlelight, nor yet firelight or sunlight. And I recall thinking to myself as I saw ye, Oh, so that’s what electric light is like.”

I stared at him, open-mouthed

“How can you recognize something in a dream that you’ve never seen in real life?”

He seemed to find that funny.

“I dream of things I’ve not seen all the time, Sassenach – don’t you?”

Because of the nature of dreams, Jamie could not remember Claire’s age in it. Is it possible for others (in this case Frank) to see the astral body of somebody else who is dreaming in the past?


Evert Hopman, Ellen. Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore. Los Angeles: PENDRAIG Publishing. 2010. Print.

Gabaldon, Diana. A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 2005. New York: Bantam Dell. 2006. Print.

– – – . Dragonfly in Amber. New York: Bantam Dell, 1993. Print.

– – -. An Echo in the Bone. 2009. New York: Bantam Dell. 2011. Print.

– – – . Voyager. 1994. New York: Bantam Dell. 2002. Print.

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