The Ghost Fish and its Association with Abandawe and Geillis

I decided to write this post a little bit sooner than what I originally planned. One of the reasons is that there is the scene in the last episode of Outlander in which Margaret Campbell tells Claire about Abandawe (Season 3, Episode 7, Crème de Menthe). I recommend reading the following posts:

White Animals and the King of Ireland

Symbolism of Claire’s Color

The cave of Abandawe is mentioned for the first time by Lawrence Stern in Voyager while explaining to Claire how he and Jamie met at the brothel in Edinburgh and started to talk about the presence of spiders in caves:

“. . . And in the lost hill, there are caves still more lost, whose existence no one knows save perhaps the aboriginal inhabitants of this place – and they are long gone,. . . (Voyager, ch. 50)

“I have seen one such cave,” he added reflectively. “Abandawe, the Maroons call it. They consider it a most sinister and sacred spot, though I do not know why” (Voyager, ch. 50).

However, of note is the scene in which Father Fogden shows Lawrence an unusual dead fish that he found in a spring located on his property. Here are the main details:

  • The fish is white and blind
  • Father Fogden refers to it as a ghost fish
  • The skin is transparent and thin to the point that it is possible to get a glimpse of the viscera and skeleton.
  • Lawrence mentions it is a blind cave fish and that he has seen one before at Abandawe

White is one of Claire’s color. She is La Dame Blanche in Dragonfly in Amber and the White Witch at Fort Ticonderoga. She is also associated with white animals such the white mare and a white, silver deer. The significance is that white animals are considered messengers from the “spirit” world.

……white animals normally were accorded respect and considered to be carriers of messages from the otherworld……..(The Fiery Cross, ch. 82).

“You’re verra white, Sassenach. Perhaps the bear will think ye’re kindred spirit.”

There could be several interpretations to what exactly is the otherworld. It could mean the world of the dead but also the world of the faeries. It could also mean the world of the twentieth century. Jamie can see his daughter even before meeting her in dreams. Furthermore, Margaret Campbell establishes communication with Brianna. One is in the past, and the other one is in the future. In regards to the Amerindians, it might mean the images they experience after ingesting a hallucinogenic substance.

Of note is the fact that the fish is dead. Therefore, it is not associated with Claire but with another white lady, Geillis. The blindness is probably related to the fact that Geillis is unable to foresee that she will die at Abandawe. Ishmael warns Claire about it by telling her she cannot perform magic.

“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)

Based on her knowledge of gemstones, Geillis is aware that she might fail.

Stones of protection; amethyst, emerald, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and a male ruby” (Voyager, ch. 60).

“The male stones are what ye use, though; the females don’t work” (Voyager, ch. 60).

There are other significant quotes from Chapter 50. The spring where the dead fish was found is in Father Fogden’s property. Lawrence mentions something to Claire that brings to mind Saint Killian at the White Spring.

“Yes, there are hundreds of such springs. Some of them are said to have spirits living in them – but I do not suppose you subscribe to such superstition, sir?”

Hope you enjoyed reading this post! More interesting Outlander stuff is coming!

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