Witchcraft in the STARZ series, Outlander

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Geillis and Claire on trial
Witchcraft is and has sort of always been a popular thing to put in TV shows.  In the past few years we've seen witch elements to True Blood, American Horror Story, and shows like Salem and Witches of East End focusing on witchcraft.  Mostly, these things are ridiculous and sensational and have very little resemblance to actual witchcraft.  However, Outlander seems to depict witchcraft with a realistic and period-accurate sense.


Lucky Claire

Sure, the show is based on time-travel, but the way they show witchcraft (both the good and the bad aspects) is really refreshing in times where Jessica Lang is something called "the Supreme" (and don't get me started on the voodoo in that show...).  Claire is a 1940's war nurse that gets transported to Scotland in the 1700s and has knowledge of herbology and healing, so naturally she's thought to be a witch.  This isn't an immediate danger though, as the Laird of the castle she is a temporary resident of appoints her Healer and she gets an enviable apothecary room all to herself.  She befriends Geillis Duncan, who is also though to be a witch (and actually kind of is).  I won't get into details, but they end up on trial for witchcraft which, let's face it, isn't unusual for this time period.  

Geillis's Attic
Witchcraft in this show is shown as Folk Magic, which is really great to see.  And what's even better about it, is that it's not really seen as a bad thing.  Folk Magic in Europe was rooted in superstition more than "magic" and Outlander is known for being pretty historically accurate in most senses, so it's great that it maintains accuracy here.  Seeing and hearing about Celtic magic is somewhat unusual in this day and age in US television.  

Master Raymond's Apothecary

In Season Two, the witchcraft element is carried over with the transition to 18th Century France.  Claire visits Master Raymond's Apothecary on multiple occasions and finds herself in a bit of more hot water with withcraft being taboo.  However, the herb blends and "potions" that are shown are pretty accurate and much more believable than the supernatural nonsense we usually see.

This is my favorite part about how witchcraft is shown in this series.  It's more about drinking certain teas for ailments, and which herbs work for cleansing and healing and less about spell casting and revenge (though there is some of that in here too).  It's nice to see what I do (to a degree) shown on TV in a way that doesn't make me feel like I need to explain that I'm not a devil worshipper.

Thanks Outlander, for this and...other things.

Outlander is on STARZ every Saturday.

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