On the Archetypal Significance of TV Epics and Ridiculously Embarrassing Celebrity Crushes



I inclined 

To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin

Til Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind,

He said: I made the Iliad from such

A local row. Gods make their own importance.

-Patrick Kavanagh

Outlander season 2 is complete, and boy has it been a season for the ages. As this new droughtlander begins, I’m left feeling and thinking all the things. Thoughts are swirling like a whirlpool in my mind, buzzing like the stones at Craigh na Dun, making it nearly impossible to compose an articulate review at all, not to mention doing anything other than to continue to re-feel (perhaps to reveal?) everything this series is.

I’ve watched and re-watched the finale several times, re-watched half of season 1, and read countless reviews. I’ve been comforted and amused by some of the thoughts of other viewers about the strengths and the weaknesses of the season, particularly this one by the legendary and hilarious Connie Verzak. I’ve been annoyed by the critics, particularly the misogynistic ones. And, I’ve been in intuitive feeler space – a lot.

There’s much I could say about the choices the team made this year – a lot I could engage with on the topic, but most of it has been said already, and I’m not inclined to do so. It’s splitting hairs at this point anyway, and for me, doing so is not the most interesting way to engage with great art. Instead, I’ll say this to all parties involved: BRAVO! This series originates from some incredibly complex source material. The fact that Ron D. Moore, Maril Davis and crew were able to make something so coherent, so exquisitely compelling translate to screen is a task of Herculean magnitude. I salute this entire group of artists for what they have accomplished.

Outlander fans are legion, and we are passionate because the work simply is that  compelling. If you read regularly, you’ll know that I’ve already written about jumping on the #teamfraser wagon when it comes to my sense of the presence of overwhelming archetypal images in Outlander. I firmly believe that it’s a positive depiction of an aphroditic, erotic bond between these characters, written from a feminist perspective, that fans respond to when it comes to this this series. Frankly, we’ve had dry times in our media when it comes to depictions of love in this way, and I will defend it to the end against anyone who claims it to be “just a bodice ripper,” “mommy porn,” or a “just series for women” for several reasons, not the least of which is that 1). it is a patently unfair assessment, 2). there wasn’t all that much in terms of “bodice ripping” in season 2 anyway, and 3). that this attitude suggests that even if it were such a thing that would somehow make the work less important.

Now that that’s said – whew, I feel better – I need to talk about the archetypal importance of Outlander as an epic. I need to talk about the revival of the epic tradition on television, because epic is vital to our psychological health and like so many other mythic modalities is often diminished by a culture that overwhelms us with imagery while simultaneously offering us little in terms of both emotionally effective and affective content. You see, this is transcendent storytelling folks, and it is, in fact, authentically epic, not just colloquially so.

Epic is, of course, a literary term. It is generally defined as a long poem, most often from the ancient oral traditions, that crosses an extended period of time and space and recounts the legendary deeds of a hero or group of heroes. Epics are meant to be grand, poetic, engaging, and all encompassing. They are meant to swallow you broken and return you whole. Sound familiar? Good. We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I am compelled to confess something to you, dear reader. I have been gripped more deeply by this entire series than by anything else I’ve ever encountered (while that might be a no DUH, I still need to say it). And that’s saying a lot. In my years as a student and scholar of mythology, I’ve engaged many stories in myriad ways. Indeed, I have engaged this series and for over a year now. I’ve been living and breathing it. I just can’t seem to put the story down, and I don’t foresee that I will do so any time in the near future. I keep re-reading and re-watching. And every time I do, it takes my breath away. The first time I encountered the penultimate climax chapter in Dragonfly in Amber, from the moment Dougal walks in as Claire and Jamie plot to kill the Stuart Prince to the agonizing moment when Claire hurls herself against the stone, I completely disappeared into the story. It blew my mind, and when I put it down, I realized that I’d not been breathing. It was as though at that moment I too had traveled back through the stones with Claire, back to my life in 21st century Southern California. The reality of it was jarring, disorientating, and frankly, somewhat frightening. That had simply never happened to me before.

The way this series affects me has become downright embarrassing. I recently attended a SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actor’s Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) event with my husband’s niece. She’s an actress and as a member of SAG-AFTRA, she received a notification email that there was going to be an evening with Caitriona Balfe. She immediately thought of me and got tickets. I was elated. I was compelled. I HAD to go.

This isn’t like me. I love stories and I’ve always been a film and TV buff, but I’m not usually quite THIS much of a fangirl. I live in an industry town. Santa Barbara has been a Hollywood ally/destination for as long Hollywood has existed. In fact, some of the earliest silent films were produced right here. It’s part of our culture in the same way it is in LA. I paraphrase what the late great Robin Williams once said about LA: it’s a place where the guy playing basketball next to you at the gym who looks like George Clooney actually IS George Clooney. Santa Barbarans are used to having celebrities around, and they don’t tend to faze us. I’ve been here for over 20 years and have gotten used to seeing people whose work in the entertainment community I admire. I thought I’d be fine. I believed I was unshakeable. I knew I would be excited, but I thought it would be an event like others I’d been to with celebrities. Super cool. I wanted to hear what she had to say. That’s it.

I decided to head down a day early to spend the night with my BFF, an amazing artist who lives in downtown LA’s The Brewery artist collective, and whom I had been desperately trying to convert to the fandom. She and I decided to make it an Outlander day. We drove to the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills to check out the exhibit they had running there and drool over the costumes. We wandered out for some coffee and we waited until it was time for me to meet up with my niece for the event. As we sat and talked, my friend began to recount her own recent experience at a SAG-AFTRA event. She mentioned that at the event she had attended, that several other cast members also showed. I found myself hoping that that wouldn’t be the case. As much as I love Sam Heughan as an actor and respect his work as an altruist, I intuited (correctly, as it turned out) that seeing him in person would be an experience I would not, at this juncture, be able to gracefully navigate.

Speaking of Sam, let’s just pause for a moment to say his name and breathe it in like a mantra.

Inhale Sam…


Exhale Jamie…

Alright. Feel better? Good. Knew you would. Me too. So. Much. Better. 😀

Nope. I was totally fine just seeing Caitriona. Somehow I just KNEW that seeing the two of them together would constellate energy for me would come dangerously close to frying my psychological circuits – i.e. I likely would have fainted.

I could feel the excitement and nervousness welling up inside, an experience that only continued to strengthen as I met with my niece and stood in line for the event. It was the oddest sensation I’ve ever experienced, something between nervous joy and complete panic. The event itself was great. They screened an episode for us (season 2, episode 7, Faith) and then Caitriona came out to talk to us. It is a wonderful interview, mostly things I’ve heard her speak to in the past, but somehow hearing it in a room full of actors made the quality of the craft come alive in a more meaningful way.


And this camera view is pretty much where I was. I sat quietly and listened, engaged and excited, – all the nods – and I remained relatively calm. The interview ended, and she left the room. As we all shuffled out the door, my niece and I decided to head down the hall to use the restroom. We talked about our impressions as we quietly went about our business, washing hands, brushing hair, the usual things one wishes to do before heading on the road home from an event. Then we walked out into the narrow hallway, and I ran face to face with her walking toward me with a group of event coordinators.

You’d think for a super fan such as myself, this would be the moment I would jump into action and tell her how glorious I find her work to be, but it didn’t happen like that at all. I froze. I can’t explain it other than to say that I felt an energetic glow coming off her the moment I saw her. I gasped (audibly) and didn’t move. She walked by and said hello to my niece and me with a smile, as she continued on her way down the hall. I was completely taken back by my reaction, and I also knew that it was both mythic and archetypal.

I was aware, completely and in that moment that my reaction had absolutely nothing to do with her on a physical level. As fabulous as she is, she was simply fulfilling a role that artists have fulfilled across time – that is to offer herself up as a channel and to be a catalyst for that transformational power that has traditionally been known as the mythic gods, what we often call archetypal images/energies in story.

I had, at that moment, experienced what depth psychologist James Hillman calls being arrested by beauty. Not her beauty, per se, though she is truly a lovely woman filled with luminous energy, but arrested by the beauty of the epic her presence evokes and invokes in me. This is why I’d hoped she would be on her own that day, because truly, just experiencing her part of this energy was enough to render me speechless. Having him there might have killed me. 😉

Artists intuit this archetypal power. We know it intimately. It’s why we do what we do. When we do our  best work, we give ourselves over to it so that through our art, others can also experience the power of creativity we channel. That level of engagement can be dangerous. Marilyn Monroe is a classic example. She became so identified with the archetypal energy she channeled that it completely destroyed her. Vivian Leigh is another example of someone who worked so closely with the unconscious that it ultimately destroyed her sanity.  Forest Whitaker has spoken honestly about it, noting that it took several months of purification through meditative practices for him to be able to rid himself of Idi Amin after his Oscar winning role in The Last King of Scotland. Yes, that level engagement can be dangerous, but it can also be the most powerful form of communication we have.

In her work on epic and cosmos, literary critic Louise Cowan writes that “…epic poets have to open their imaginations to an arena of sufficient scope that the gods may enter.”[i] I certainly felt the presence of this kind of mythic energy at SAG-AFTRA that day, and I know I’m not alone. There are many, many readers that have been captivated and transformed by this series of books since the first book was published – about 25 years ago when the two principal stars and me were preteens – too young to be aware that this epic that would prove so significant.


Humanity has had many epics about war, the conquering of the foe, and the hero’s journey back to wholeness. In fact, it is generally believed that the entire reason for the Greek epic tradition was to heal a people and process the trauma of war. And we seem to continue to be in that moment, as the 2016 Emmy award nominations this morning reveal a shocking 23 nominations for the war epic Game of Thrones, but no nominations for the principal actors of Outlander.

Although war is certainly central to Outlander as well, what I’m left with is a firm belief that Outlander’s significance as an epic lives in what it reveals about the archetypal expression of passion, devotion, and creation. Our dominant cultural consciousness, seems to miss that epic has the ability to return all kinds of images to wholeness. In doing so, it call upon the concepts of what Plato calls the forms and the ideals, a mode of philosophical expression that this series does extremely well. It presents us with an ideal form of what is possible when partners invest their whole beings to the creative potentialities of relationship, and it tracks that investment across time and space with consistently powerful, fully formed characters, both masculine and feminine. By returning this story to the 18th century – the genesis of the enlightenment, it re-creates the modern western world for us, or least it offers a possibility for us to do so.

This is the psychological efficacy of epic. It allows our imaginations to breathe as we take an extensive and immersive journey with characters that reflects who we are and where we’ve been as a species. Epics create and order the world in long form. They give that process of creation attention, and they allow us to witness it. Television is uniquely positioned to offer a globalized version of this ancient mythic genre. It is impossible to over state the significance of this medium in creating global cultural identity and in regards to its ability to shape our attitudes about gender and relationship.


It is of vital significance that epics like Outlander, a story about the way two whole, creative beings come together to make a new world, continue to have a central role in the myth making medium of television because this story of creativity is the power of Eros. We must make room in this process for this and other culturally subversive perspectives. Perhaps it is the life giving, feminist aspect of the story that balances it and makes it threatening to its detractors. Cowan writes, “the epic assumes that the sacred marriage of the two equal and complementary powers is possible and that in that wedding the whole world is renewed.”[ii] As far as I’m concerned, this is made clearer in Outlander than in any other offering of our contemporary image based forum for myth.

Ultimately, Outlander shows that sustaining the erotic charge not only creates life; it is life. Maybe we, like Claire and Jamie, are living in the last days of something, in our own 20 years of exile – of patriarchal purgatory before we will be able to reconnect and rebuild our cosmos in a way that truly values “rare women” and “loves them well.” But after this forced exile will come a chance for reconnection, a chance to value, cherish, and satisfy our rare women, heal the wounds and soothe the scars of our men, and in the end as a part of that process transcend gender all together to create something new. That WOULD be epic, would it not?

[i] The Epic Cosmos, 11.

[ii] IBID, 22.


Filed under Depth Psychology, Myth, Outlander, TV series

56 responses to “On the Archetypal Significance of TV Epics and Ridiculously Embarrassing Celebrity Crushes

  1. Love this! Love mythology! Love you! For years I’ve framed popular culture in the history if mythology so your insight is a rare gift. And also Santa Barbara is the most beautiful place on earth but don’t tell my fellow San Diegans I said so!

  2. OutlanderReader

    Epic as epic can be.
    Think Iliad & Odessy but Homer without misogynistic agenda, maybe?

  3. Shawn Lindo

    There is a lot I could say about your wonderful essay – beautifully written – but I will leave you with only a very personal insight – the Jamie/Claire relationship pushes me to be a better partner to my husband!

  4. Reno Sweeney

    Thank you for articulating what the OUTLANDER series brings to all of us! Having taught mythology & the epics for years, I can’t tell you how much this article means to me. I’ve been retired for a decade, but the archetypes & the epics are embedded in my soul. It was a joy to read this. I just wanted to shout, YES!!!

    • Oh! So Excited to see another myth and epic teacher here. What’s your favorite? In what context do you teach? Let’s keep in touch. I’d love to continue this conversation. 😀

  5. Beautiful said…. the epic journey of a strong woman and man. That is what excites me in the book and tv series. Their choices, their thought process, their love, it gives us all something to strive for.

    • That’s the truth isn’t it. What I find most captivating about this series is the way this couple nurtures their passion over the course of a lifetime. Depth Psychologist Marion Woodman talks about that in her memoir film “Dancing in the Flames.” She talks about how she and her husband have had 4 marriages with each other. Each time some of the projections fall away, one must make the decision — “Ok, this person is not who I projected them to be but I still choose them.” It’s a decision we make all the time in big and small ways in a marriage…and frankly in any kind of relationship with other people.

      Thanks for reading. Let’s chat more about this. 😀

  6. Carey P

    What an amazing and excellently articulated piece. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for sharing something like this out in the world. It’s so very much more than what appears at first glance.

    • Thanks for reading Carey. That’s the thing about popular culture, especially the stuff that becomes as huge as Outlander. It’s never what it appears at first glance. It always carries serious mythic heft. Let’s chat more about this if you have time. 😀

  7. Erin

    Well done! Thanks for articulating so well the power and resonance that Outlander has for so many readers, and now watchers. I’ve never before been so captivated by a series of books… and I’ve loved quite a few. I’ve also been hard pressed to explain my fascination with Sam. I’m 64 for God’s sake, too old for a school girl crush…maybe not, but it is so much more.

    • Hi Erin,

      Well, I have to admit, I’m 40 (only three years older than Sam, but whatever). I have never had a crush on a celebrity before. I’ve loved the work of many (interestingly enough…half of them are Scots…McGregor, McAvoy, O’Hara…but I’ve never been this captivated. It has to be the work. The archetypal images are alive in this work.

      Thanks for reading! Keep in touch!

  8. Singerlor

    Thanks for so beautifully putting into words how I feel about these books and series. I have always prided myself as a non-groupie but after reading these books and watching this series, I can no longer say that. I, too, disappeared into these books and still have trouble getting out of them.

  9. As a student of and writer about mythology myself, I totally get what you are saying here. The meaning of epic has morphed over the years from its original ethos as poem, and I do think Outlander fits in to that broader scope. I try to explain why these books have such an effect on me (and not only me, obvs) to others, and always fail, ending usually with a feeble ‘but you just have to read them and see for yourself’. I find it interesting that in this current world we put certain actors on a sort of godlike pedestal. Perhaps, to us, Sam and Cait are, as you suggest above, our very own Homeric figures, who, in channelling on screen the book figures we have already fallen in love with, somehow become those godlike archetypes for us. I too have never been a ‘fangurl’ before. But with two Outlander Gatherings under my belt, several events, and as a reader of every nugget of information about the show or books, something strange has clearly happened to me. I am now reading the books again for the umpteenth time since 1994 when I first discovered them. It’s as if somehow they make the world more real, or bearable, in a kind of divine beneficence of words, which the ritual of watching the show and talking about it with other fans only reinforces. Weird, but true.

  10. LyD

    YES. THANK YOU. I’ve been unable to put my finger on, understand, explain, express, how this story makes me feel and why but, thanks to your article, I now understand what “it” is, about this series of books (and tv). You’ve pointed out that mode of philosophical expression and put it into context. Epic. Truly.

  11. Jan

    So well written. I was captivated by your every word. I felt like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing. I have been a fan since the books 1st came out and still read and re-read and re-watch and never tire of this fantastic series. Thank you again !

    • Thanks Jan! I WISH I discovered this series earlier in my life. It would have made so much fall in place sooner. But I guess as is an eternal spiritual truth, it came to me right when it was time for me to read it. 😀 Thanks again for your comment. Keep in touch!

  12. Now I understand why this series has made me feel ‘alive’ again since losing my husband. I have spent too much time trying to talk myself ‘out’ of the silliness, but you have helped frame an argument that I’m now going to embrace. Merci!

    • It’s not silliness at all. Myth can help us heal. It opens our hearts in a non-threatening way. We can see inside ourselves without having to feel vulnerable. Thanks for reading. 😀 Keep in touch!

  13. Rebecca Jallings

    Well, we’re on the same page—or at least now I remember that page, thanks to your essay.

    I have a masters degree from years ago and I knew that language would come in handy again. Plus, I’ve always thought if someone else paid for it, I’d love to get a PHD in popular culture because I speak that language as well. And here you are, speaking both languages to me. Wow.

    For over a year I’ve been trying to articulate why this story resonates so strongly with me that is has become an obsession. But I forgot to consider the power of those stories that inhabit our DNA. The Joseph Campbell-ness of it, if you will. You did not forget. You’ve reminded my to think about a whole lot of pieces that, when assembled, go a long way to helping me understand the strength of Galbadon’s writing.

    Thank you so much. I truly appreciate your help.

    • Hi Rebecca!

      What is the discipline of your Master’s?? Glad to see another Pop Culture nerd on here. My graduate school actually houses Joseph Campbell’s archives. He’s kind of the “godfather” of our school. I’m glad you found this helpful and that it reminded you of what you learned in the past.

      Let’s keep in touch!

      • Rebecca Jallings

        My grad work was in multicultural education. I taught theater, media, speech and film for 25 years in a large urban high school, and long ago I started a class of 25+ kids that reflected the racial mix of the big high school I taught in. Each year we created a performance about race, gender, sexuality, and conflict and toured it to 30+ elementary and middle schools each year. I always knew we were doing it right when an audience of 400 kids would suddenly be absolutely still–and clearly uncomfortable. My thesis was on that collective process–what I learned from them and what they learned from each other. It was a transformative experience for all of us every year until I retired. (It continues with a teacher I trained to do it. I am very proud of that.)

        I can’t believe your school housed Campbell’s archives! That is so cool!

        My popular culture dissertation, were I to write one, would be on the demands we make of our celebrities and how those demands stay the same or change over time. I’d want to examine what we as a culture expect from our famous people and why. I know we have idolized certain of us for thousands of year and some of those ways never seem to change. It may sound like reaching, but when I directed high school shows, I would watch the leads suddenly become so very popular; they would be surrounded by other kids constantly. I watched as they tried to handle this newfound celebrity status that had little to do with them and everything to do with the character they were playing. It was a heady experience for every one of them. I would warn them that it was probably going to happen, but to no avail. Then I would listen to them try to make sense of it. I always thought it was for the best that most leads were seniors, so they were about to leave high school. The end of those obsessions would have been very difficult for all of us.

        It happened to the kids in the touring class I mentioned too, but it happened outside of school which made it easier. Little kids would stare at them. Sometimes they would be brave enough to stop the big high school kid at the mall or on the street and quote the sketches she or he performed–word for word. Each year the high school kids would decide they needed to behave well when they were out in public in case some little audience member saw them. That was a pretty positive outcome I thought.

        I think about this stuff in relation to the actors in Outlander. How is their new found fame a positive and negative addition to their self concept? Is there a way to mitigate the shock of it, the intrusion of it to their lives? I can only imagine.

        Just thoughts I have been ruminating on for a long time.

      • HI Rebecca,

        That sounds like an incredibly interesting program! I went to school with someone who started an organization that used myth to transform the experience of inner city young ones. (it’s called Alchemy, Inc.). That sounds like amazing thesis project. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Victor Turner. He’s was a ritual scholar. He wrote a book called “From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play.”

        I used that book in my dissertation on Disneyland as ritual process. Love that topic!

        YES! I agree with you about the actors. It must be so tough to navigate this newfound fame of theirs. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately myself. There is so much pressure placed on them to be everyone’s projection of perfect all the time. As artists, they are definitely energy sensitive souls with tender egos. It must be a difficult thing to manage…especially in regards to all the speculation on their personal lives.

        Anyway, deep thoughts. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I went out of town last week and didn’t take my computer.

        Keep in touch!

  14. PS: Taking Sam to Zumba for inspiration….imagination is a terrible thing to waste.

  15. Carolyn Clark

    I felt I had been punched in the stomach; knocking out my wind. Finally, someone helped me understand my emotional connection to this love story. I am an educated person, but I struggled with the “why.” I only joined Outlander April 2017. Delay was due to helping my husband fight and lose his battle with cancer. I was in deep grief and a friend knew of my love of all things Scottish and suggested I watch Outlander to distract me. I was completely hooked by the end of S1E1. Binge watched both S1&2, and watched them over and over. Jumped to the books and have read five books, two novella, compendium, time line, & that stupid comic book. In the process, I think I started a love-type of emotion with Sam/Jamie character. Got on Twitter to gather any and all information I could. Then I started to feel I was going crazy because I still couldn’t answer the question, “why?” I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your enlightening article. You did a really good job and I say, “well done.” Still hooked on Outlander & the Sam/Jamie fascination and have no intention of stopping something that brings me so much joy….but now I at least know the “why”….thanks to you. Regards, Carolyn Clark

    • Hi Carolyn,

      I’m so sorry for your loss. You know, one of the most poignant things about mythology is the way it helps us process grief. I had a friend in graduate school who came to study specifically because she knew connecting with stories would help her process the recent loss of her husband. I’m glad that this little reflection of mine helped clarify things for you. You’re not crazy. Far from it. We are gripped by archetypes because the energy they embody helps us process where we are psychologically. That archetype won’t let go until you are ready for it to let go…and that’s just fine. I too have struggled to process what it is about Jamie/Sam that I’m so drawn to. Sam’s just a lovely, charming man, and I do love a Scot, but I doubt that if I met him on the street beyond this story I would have been as taken by him as I am because he plays Jamie. Somehow, I sense that he struggles with that, because he knows that’s why the fans feel the way they do, but as all actors are just a wee bit insecure, he probably doesn’t want to admit that it’s the character everyone loves. It’s really the archetype everyone really loves. ❤ Thanks for reading. Keep in touch! ❤

      • Carolyn Clark

        Thank you for your kind and quick response. Your comment about Sam and the “love feast” that presently engulfs him…but Sam as a person appears to give himself completely when greeting his fans. I know of no other celebrity that does that. Will it change with time….probably. As his fame grows in other projects, his handlers will insulate him differently. But Sam is a real charmer at present and seems to be having such fun….as are we who watch him.
        Regards, Carolyn Clark

      • Totally agree with what you say about Sam. He seems like such a sweet soul. I hope Hollywood is good to him.

      • Jennifer

        Dori, thank you so much for your explanation. It helped me understand why I have been so taken with the hero. Yes, Sam is very good-looking, but so are many other actors in Hollywood; as far as appearance is concerned, he is not in any way unique. I guess people do have a hard time differentiating between the actor and the character that he portrays, especially if the portrayal is so talented (I do like the books better, though – Jamie’s character is way more complex and multifaceted, and thus deeper and more interesting than his “goody-goody” version in the film). And you are so right! “that it’s the character everyone loves. It’s really the archetype everyone really loves”. Thanks again!

      • Hi Jennifer,

        I’m pleased that this article helped you understand some things about yourself. I say that all the time. It’s NOT the sex, and it’s NOT Sam’s incredibly well-shaped behind that keeps us all engaged. Sex and sculpted bodies are all over the place these days. What Outlander offers is a glimpse at what true connection can be. It shows us how transformational it is when we engage love with our entire beings. No one can do it all the time or be as perfect as Jamie and Claire…that’s the fantasy. I often quip that “even Jamie and Claire aren’t Jamie and Claire.” The magic is in the potentiality. The magic is in love and our willingness to engage it EVEN when things are difficult. That magic is in our devotion to each other. Jamie may be more expressive about his devotion than pretty much any actual human being can be, but nevertheless, it’s possible. And this story offers a peek at what it looks like. 😀

        Thanks for the note!

        Keep in touch!


      • Jennifer

        <"Jamie may be more expressive about his devotion than pretty much any actual human being can be" – exactly!! Sometimes it sounds as if he has been reading "Men are from Mars" – women like to hear about love and devotion; men, mostly, are baffled by this part. That's what makes Jamie a perfect man in any woman's eyes: not only he loves Claire passionately, he also speaks about his feelings quite eloquently:) We all long for this, don't we?
        I'm up to book 7 now; Jamie and Claire are in their fifties. It's fascinating to see how both characters develop and mature. Diana is truly one of the best story-tellers of our time.
        Thanks again.

  16. eugeniaelmo

    Truly moved by this article. If, as you say, or quote, (Epics)”… are meant to swallow you broken and return you whole”, Outlander is the ultimate epic! Thank you for validating these myriad of feelings that these books/series elicit on me. I feel like you are another kindred spirit.
    Eugenia Elmo

  17. Has anyone else had the experience of introducing a beloved friend to the series only to have them say , “meh”its not for me . I find myself stupified that this person whom i have shared so much with , isn’t interested in sharing this. What kind of character deficit has she been hiding all these many years ?

    • LOL. Oh Joyce…I’ve had that happen once or twice. A couple of my close friends either don’t get Outlander at all, or find it too violent (particularly in regards to sexual violence). Not every myth is everyone’s myth. I just bless them and move a long (but I still harass them with pictures of Sam heheheh).

  18. Marianne Frances Moore

    I’m seeing your comments about marriage and wondering if you have ever seen that Alan Alda-Carol Burnett movie, “The Four Seasons”? https://youtu.be/ECa1j56U1ns
    It said similar things about the ongoing seasons of a marriage that I loved- but I LOVE Alan Alda too.

  19. Helen Mayall

    What a brilliant, intelligent and interestingly written piece! So glad you explained my madness. I will get my family to read this!! They may just realise I’m amongst intelligent individuals in my obsession. At certain points in the article, I truely believed you were talking about me!!

    • Hi Helen,

      Thanks for reading. I had a hard time writing this story in the beginning. It felt too self-revelatory, too embarrassing. But I pressed on, because inside I knew that it was, in fact, an archetypal experience. I’m so glad to know it resonated with you!

      Keep in touch!


  20. Darlene

    I so enjoyed reading your article. I guess I am a little late but it describes how I feel. The books are history with a wonderful love story at the center. The actors who portray Jamie and Claire are perfect. The friendship they share makes the story so real. I enjoy getting lost in the books as well as the series. I never dreamed I would feel this way. A wonderful job is being done by all involved. You are so lucky. I know I would freeze up if in your situation. Sam and Caitriona both seem so humble with the notoriety. I am older and amazed at the interaction that is a possibility with celebrities. Thanks for this article.

    • Hi Darlene!

      Thanks for reading. I feel like I am late to this party too. I can’t believe it took me so long to get into this series, but as they say, you find it when it’s the right time. I think I must be at the right time in my life, because I’ve known about this series for almost 15 years now. It’s finally burrowed its way under my skin. It was kind of funny in terms of the whole moment when I froze, because Cait was clearly walking down the hall with other actors that she knew from her time living here in LA. It was totally congenial, nothing pretentious about it, and yet I STILL lost it. Just goes to show that these characters are powerful!

      Keep in touch,


  21. Thank you for your essay/blog. The Outlander books and video series have touched me in so many ways. First, the video has garnered my highest praise possible, I feel it is as good as the subject books. Different than the books in many ways, but equally good. The books that were published at the time got me through my mother’s final illness and her death. I have since added the latest novel, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and short stories.

    Epic is an excellent description for the Outlander series. No other literary genre does it justice.

    • Thanks so much for reading my stuff. I am terribly sorry for your loss. 😦

      You are right. These books do a lot to move our psychological healing forward.

      Keep in touch!

  22. Patricia Dellinger

    Ms Koehler, thank you for this article. Your writing is as wonderfully Articulate as Diana’s!
    Awesome job!!
    I too, am a Southern Cal girl, birn and raised in Orange County and 20 yrs displaced to NW WA. It’s beautiful but I sorely miss my wonderful So CA Beaches with their big, crashimg waves!!
    Patricia Dellinger

    • Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad it resonated with you. What part of Orange Co. did you live in before you moved north? My mom is from the spot where the OC, LA county, and San Bernadino Co connect. She grew up in Artestia. You might be interested in the book I just published (since you are from So Cal). I wrote a book on the importance of ritual exploring rituals and temples through the experience of going to Disneyland. It’s called “The Mouse and the Myth: The Sacred Art and Secular Ritual of Disneyland.”

      I LOVE Washington State. I have tons of family up there. 😀

      Thanks again for reading. Let’s keep in touch!


  23. Judith McParland

    Thank you for writing this. I cannot claim that it makes me understand completely my irrational obsession with Outlander, books and TV series, and especially Sam. I’m 76, widowed, too old to have “crushes”, but this young man and the character he portrays in a story that is fiction, have almost completely taken over my life. I check Facebook and Twitter and Instagram every day to see where he is, what he is up to, is he still “Jamie” or has he betrayed the masculine ideals that Jamie seems to cling to. Most of all I have my doubts that a relationship like that between Claire and Jamie could actually exist except in the imagination of a talented author, and if it did, I could never share in it in real life, not at my age. I kind of think it is sad that my fervent wish is that I live long enough to read the final book and see the end of the series. There should be more of a future even to someone my age, but there isn’t, at least for me. But now I know I’m not alone in my obsession. It does make my solitary existence a bit easier.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Judith. I completely believe that art is transcendent. That’s what makes this story so powerful. As for Sam, he’s a human being. I’m sure he has his own set of flaws, precious as he is…Thanks for reading!

  24. Thank you so much Dori for writing really well constructed essays on one of my favourite and most meaningful thoughts in my life. I was introduced to Diana Gabaldon’s writing over 17 years ago by an American friend who was residing in Sydney for the Olympics. I was pregnant and so escaping into these novels was such a relief. Throughout so many years of problems with cancer, divorce etc Diana’s writing has helped me. I have two sons who I have encouraged at some time in their lives to read these books. This is because I really believe the relationship between Claire and Jamie can teach us so much – and I am happy to see other people here share that same view. I have always been devoted to the idea that the relationship can just be at the beginning when you marry. Not the other way around – which happens in so many love stories. The chase bla bla and then the wedding etc. There is real understanding and true connection between these characters. Respect and always trying to understand each other and honour the differences. It is such a welcome relief from the superficial which we are often dished up. Even the way the costume and set designers have spent so much time and been in love with this writing for years, is well reflected in the production. I hope you will continue to write on this topic and shed the reasons behind the enchantment that this relationship provides us. Thank you so much for using your expertise in this way. Thank you.

  25. Thank you for the many epiphanies in this piece, so illuminating! I wonder if archetypes cross cultures? Would you find the same mythical/legendary figures in Indigenous or Asian cultures?
    I first encountered archetypes in a Media Studies course (Influence, persuasion and propaganda) and their use in advertising, e.g., to convey multiple nuanced meanings with one symbol/image.
    Where might I read more of the sacred marriage legends?
    Very thoughtful article, and I happily share your Outlander obsession 🙂

    • Hi There! I do think archetypal images cross cultures. Different cultures have unique takes on them. Each story even within subcultures has unique versions of them depending where their cultural energy is at the moment. 😀

  26. Margaret Orlowski

    I appreciate that others have shared in my feeling about this work. It helps me come to grips with my strong obsession with the characters, and my reluctance to admit it at age 83. You mean I’m not just a silly old fool, but a sensitive human who can indulge in epic appreciation? How wonderful! Thank you for this. [I was after all an English major.]

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