My usual warning: This article contains spoilers from all of the Outlander series books including the novella, The Space Between! I have tried to limit all information to that which specifically pertains to Gillian Edgars or Geillis Duncan. I have also included my own personal speculations and thoughts which may or may not be accurate. They are only my personal thoughts on direction of story, characters or still unanswered questions about events and people!
Previous Geillis post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/geillis-duncan-the-witch-within-comes-out/
You may have noticed that I have chosen not to sit down with Geillis/Gillian and do this interview on a one to one basis as I did with Frank Randall… Can you really blame me? I am sorry but I could not bring myself to sit down with the woman, even though I’ve heard that she can be perfectly charming and quite friendly. I just did not feel comfortable with the idea and the possibility that she might perceive my inquiries as some sort of threat. As we’ve noted previously, she does not kill or curse indiscriminately and if she feels you pose no potential threat to her agenda, she most likely would not bother with you. But, if she felt for some reason that I might present her in a bad light…really, what other light is there to present her in? Anyway, if she felt that my interview or questions would cast any doubt or suspicion upon her, I am reasonably sure that she would have no qualms about harming me!
So, because of this I have decided instead, to continue on my investigation of her from a distance! It has taken a great deal of detective work to trace her activities and her trail but I believe I have finally managed to piece together her travels, her various victims and her ultimate demise. In previous posts, we’ve mentioned some of her early travel and arrival into the past briefly. In this post, we will examine that again as part of documenting her trail, her behaviors and the unfortunate results of her actions.
Geillis has been referred to by some as a Black Widow… as in the spider that kills her mates- The prevalence of sexual cannibalism, a behaviour in which the female eats the male after mating, in some species of Latrodectus has inspired the common name “widow spiders”. Research at the University of Hamburg in Germany suggests this ultimate sacrifice strategy has evolved to promote the survival odds of the offspring; however females of some species only rarely show this behavior, and much of the documented evidence for mate cannibalism has been observed in laboratory cages where the males could not escape. I have to conclude after my thorough investigation of Geillis, that she would indeed fall into that rare category of one who kills their mates!
Let’s start back at the beginning again as a bit of a refresher? We know that she went through the Standing Stones at crag na dun at Beltaine in 1968. She was observed setting her husband, Greg Edgars, on fire and going through the Stones by Claire, Bree and Roger.
She arrived some time shortly before 1739, and the first trace of her we find is her arrival in the rural area outside of Cranesmuir, where she was presumably already married to a man by the name of Isbister? She went by the name of Geillis Isbister. Her husband quickly and suspiciously died around Samhain of 1739, shortly before Roger and his ancestor relative Buck arrived in the area. They were staying with the MacClaren family at the time and Mr. MacClaren told them the story of how this odd couple had shown up and taken residence in a remote croft on the hill. She was a healer and people did go to her. For some reason though, women stopped going to her and her clientele was only men? After Samhain, her husband’s body was found hanging near the burned out croft and Geillis had disappeared. Naturally, the neighbors were suspicious of some evil there? It was at this time that one Dougal MacKenzie showed up at the MacClaren residence during his quarterly rent collection. He was told of the event at the croft and the mysterious disappearance of the woman? Dougal assured the MacClarens that he would look into the situation. He was gracious and thoughtful enough to provide Buck and Roger with horses to continue their search for Jem.
Roger’s thoughts on meeting his ancestor, Dougal MacKenzie in My Own Heart’s Blood.
During this time Buck was very ill and a healer was sent to tend to him. This healer was another time traveler by the name of Hectar McKewan, it was discovered, knew Geillis Isbister quite well! He took Roger and Buck to Cranesmuir to find her. There was some discussion between Roger and McKewan about the time traveling and Geillis being one of them. Well, certainly she was a time traveler but McKewan stated that she was not the same as him. Yes, she was a an exceptional healer, but she could not heal in the way that he could with the blue aura and such?
Now, some important things to note here: Geillis obviously moves very quickly to replace her dead husbands…probably having the next ones lined up ahead of time? She seemed to find Mr. Isbister quickly after arriving in that time, and must have immediately moved on to Arthur Duncan because she was already married to him by the time that Roger and Buck found her in Cranesmuir.
Another interesting note: It has been questioned whether Geillis knew of Claire Randall before Claire showed up at Castle Leoch… The supposition has been that she did not? At least she never made any admission or acted like she did. Her only reaction was that of wondering what Claire was at the time. We have, however, found evidence contrary to this. In going through Geillis’ extensive notes and case studies on disappearances and deaths near Stones, we found her reference to one Claire Randall. Geillis did know of Claire’s disappearance through the Stones at Crag na dun but Claire was going by the name of Claire Beauchamp when Geillis met her so possibly she would not have been suspicious at first? But, after knowing Claire for a while, she was more curious and suspicious of her behaviors. Might she have been making her own hypothesis in her mind? She knew of the theory of time travel approximation of about 200 years, knew that Claire Randall had went through at Crag na dun in 1945, so she would have expected to maybe hear of some odd person showing up in this local area around that time… This brings us to another pondering thought? Could she have went back with some thought or assumption that she might one Claire Randall? Now, I know that is a long shot assumption with no real definitive proof to back it up but it is something to think about?
The last important thing to note here is Geillis’ strange power of attracting men to her? Hectar McKewan makes mention of how men seem to be entranced and attracted to her.
Her own son, Buck is oddly attracted and tempted by her even with knowing she is his Mother! And, knowing full well what she is and is capable of, both McKewan and Buck conveniently make excuses to be away one evening. This leads Bree and Roger have a rather disturbing and disgusting thought of them both going to find Geillis?
Buck had another thought about the whole situation as well. He did ponder the idea of having been responsible for his own conception?
We have examined Geillis’ arrival and her early days at Cranesmuir. We already know about her meeting Claire and her eventually being accused of witchcraft. You can refresh your memory here:
Before we move on to her life in France, we should address an interesting and intriguing fact that connects her to France prior to Dougal’s taking her there?
On one of Claire’s visits to Geillis, she finds a book that ties Geillis directly to Witchcraft and to one other person?
Comte St. Germain
Claire knows exactly what a Grimoire is and confronts Geillis on it.
Life in France
Now, we move on to what little we know of Geillis’ life in France? Details of that time are limited and sketchy at best. The details we do know of were told after the fact by both Geillis and by the Comte St. Germain. To find out more about Comte St. Gemain, and about Master Raymond, you would be well advised to read The Space Between, a novella by Diana Gabaldon.
We know that she threatened Dougal into helping her escape to France after the Witch trial. We also know that at some point while there, she had a relationship with Comte St Germain. She also mentions at a later point that she has had five husbands? We know of Edgars, Arthur Duncan, and her last one- Barnabus Abarnathy. That would make three- we can not be sure whether that first man was actually her husband- so I suppose we should leave him out of the count for the time being. None the less, that would leave at two husbands who met their untimely demise at her hands, presumably in France?
Our questions concerning her time in France revolve around how much Dougal might have actually knew about her acquaintances and her activities, her relationship with St. Germain and when it started, and what on going involvement she may have had with events surrounding Culloden and afterwards?
When Dougal meets Claire in Paris, he knows of the Comte St Germain and his questionable activities… he insists that he’s heard about the man in local taverns? Given his involvement with Geillis, I find that story a bit lame even for Dougal! Geillis explains to Claire when they meet later that she took the name of Melisande Robicheaux and kept it because Dougal had given it to her and she was fond of it! Claire mentions knowing of Melisande Robicheaux and her somewhat iffy reputation but makes no reference to St. Germain… Apparently, she had forgotten about seeing his Grimoire in Geillis’ possession all those years before? But, to Claire’s credit, she did have a lot other pressing things on her mind at the time!
For me, the nagging question now is when did he give her this name? She had been siphoning off Arthur’s money for some time to put towards the cause… What else might she have been doing to aid the cause? The fact that she was in possession of Comte St. Germain’s Grimoire before ever going to France leads us to assume that she did know of him, had some contact with him prior to France? So, her decision to escape to France apparently was for more than one reason. She must have had some reason or plan for choosing France as her destination.
This brings us to Comte St. Germain’s recollections of his involvement with one Melisande Robicheaux. In 1779, he is Paris on some other mission and remembering his relationship with Melisande.
He also speaks of a physical relationship with Melisande and was suddenly panic sticken, slightly revolted then relieved that he had not had sex with his own daughter? Another thought did come to him, that possibly he did have sex with his grand daughter?
As he recalls his relationship with Geillis, it becomes clear that she knew much more about witchcraft and other things than he did? That would lead us to ponder the thought that he was just as much caught in her web and under her control as other men were! St. Germain really knew little about witchcraft, or about what they were? It seemed that he relied on Melisande for his information so it seems strange that he would have had a Grimoire which she would relied on for any real or useful information? In fact, after his experience with Master Raymond in the Star room, it was Melisande who later sent him a package of powder which she thought Master Raymond may have used? In the attached note, she mentioned the Frog (Master Raymond) so it could be possible that she was acquainted with him or at least knew of him? It becomes apparent later that neither Geillis or St. Germain were aware of what they might really be, they just assume themselves to be some sort of Witches.
In another reference to Melisande and the West Indies, St Germain’s associate,
We know little else about her time in France or what else she might have been doing during that time. All we know is that some time after Culloden, she made her way to the West Indies and took up residence on the Island of Jamaica at Rose Hall.
White Witch of Rose Hall- Coven
It was at Rose Hall that her truest reign of terror began and ended. You might say that Geillis had finally found her niche in the world as a Witch and possible Voodoo practitioner? She also dealt in some Piracy, kidnapping of young boys and any number of other activities that we have no idea about and probably do not want to know? Her last husband Barnabas Abernathy died of mysterious circumstances, thereby leaving her in control of the plantation and the slaves there. She took full advantage of all it and immersed herself in continuing her “research” of various forms of Witchcraft. By this time, she was delving deeply into the darker aspects of it such as some of the African dark magic practices and Voodoo… And, if all of that were not enough, she spent the remainder of her spare time researching such things as the Brahan Prophecy and the lineage of the Fraser Clan!
Jamie and Claire find her residing there in all of her “Glory” in the middle of her reign of terror. Her “research” includes the use of Virgin boys? She believes that certain ones have some sort of hidden secret stone within them, one which she deems most powerful and is need of? In all honesty, I am not really certain exactly what her plans were- at that point, she was going over the edge into her madness so I don’t think even she was quite sure! She did know she needed the stones and was not successful in finding them…so she kept kidnapping boys, torturing them and killing them in the end. Jamie’s young nephew Ian was one of these boys but, fortunately for him, he was not a virgin… so she just kept him around for her own amusement and entertainment? When Jamie and Claire went to Rose Hall, they were shocked to see that it was Geillis who was Mrs. Abarnathy, but no less surprised than she was to see them!
They attempt to make some casual conversation with Geillis and find out how she came to be there, while also trying determine what else she knows? She rambles on about a variety of things and tells them of how Dougal helped her escape, her time in France and eventually ending up inheriting the plantation from her poor deceased husband. She also keeps referring to an important visitor coming so she must be ready for him? There is some added discussion, Jamie offers to help with some maintenance outside so that he can search the grounds. Claire offers to assist Geillis with some things, ends up doctoring some slaves and returns to Geillis who is rummaging through papers and a box of stones. Claire realizes that the box of Stones is the Silkie treasure while Geillis goes on a long rambling discussion of the Stone Circles and Gems Stones.
It is during this discussion that Geillis questions Claire and wants to know what they are?
In Geillis’ discussion of the Stones, she mentions their properties and how the male stones are stronger.
Male & Female Energy Crystals
The following stones are said to vibrate with male, also known as projective, energy, and are magickally appropriate for spells and rituals that repel, as well as for workings that involve God energy, males and masculinity, virility, power, success, exorcism, protection, and things of a physical or intellectual nature:
Agate (banded, black, brown or red), amber, Apache tear, aventurine, bloodstone, calcite (orange), carnelian, cat’s eye, citrine, diamond, flint, fluorite, garnet, hematite, jasper (mottled or red), lava rock, mica, obsidian, onyx, opal (black or fire), pipestone, pumice, quartz crystal ( rutilated or tourmalated), rhodochrosite, rhodonite, ruby, sard, sardonyx, serpentine, sphene, spinel, sunstone, tigers eye, topaz, tourmaline (red), and zircon.
The following gemstones are said to vibrate with female, also known as receptive, energy. They are magickally appeopriate for spells and rituals that attract, as well as for workings that involve Goddess energy, females and femininity, fertility, growth, nurturing, and things of an emotional, spiritual, or psychic nature:
Agate (blue lace, green or moss), amethyst, aquamarine, azurite, beryl, calcite (blue, green or pink), celestite, chalcedony, chrysocolla, chrysophase, coral, emerald, jade, jasper (brown or green), jet, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, marble, moonstone, mother-of-pearl, olivine, opal, pearl, peridot, quartz crystal (blue, green, rose or smoky), sapphire, selenite, sodalite, sugilite, tourmaline (black, blue, green or pink), and turquoise.
By the end of their discussion, Claire is realizing how far gone Geillis is and she anxiously waits for Jamie to come back in so they can get the Hell out of there! They’re quite sure that Ian is probably there somewhere but there is too much going on to search for him right then? And, besides, Geillis has some very big, very dangerous slaves completely under her control… as in zombie like due to some drug she has been giving them? Yes, she is truly embracing the Dark Arts and the Voodoo realms… what she does not quite realize though is that her slaves have their own plans? What ensues later is the discovery of the other dead boys, but no Ian?
Later on, while waiting for Jamie, Claire as usual can not stay put as told… and returns to the house. She finds the plantation deserted, Geillis long gone and the Reverend Archie Cambell waiting at the house for his meeting with Geillis? It turned out that the Reverend was doing some research on the Fraser genealogy for Geillis in relation to the Brahan Prophecy…
At some point during the discussion, matters deteriorated into another murder, one that Geillis had nothing to do with! In the aftermath, Claire decided to take one last look in Geillis’ work room and found a startling sight along with odd notes … a pentacle drawn on the table, stones around it, an a picture of Bree inside the Pentacle. Horrified, she realized what Geillis was planning to do! She eventually gets back to Jamie and they head off to search for where Geillis might have went to accomplish this time travel?
They found nothing at the ancient circle but did end up finding a cave nearby?
Claire is drawn to the cave and they head into the darkness of it where Claire can feel the Cave and can feel Geillis?
They stumble their way deeper into the cavern and do eventually find Geillis and young Ian. Geillis has him tied up and plans to use him as her blood and fire sacrifice to get through the Stones to Bree?
There is confusion and chaos, a battle for their lives and when Jamie is injured, Claire snaps. She thinks of nothing else but saving them and stopping Geillis!
Now, one would think that should be the last of Geillis Duncan? They leave her body in the cave and eventually make their way to America, where they begin to start a new life and help young Ian recover from the trauma of Geillis that will haunt him for years to come.
No, unfortunately, that is not the last we see or hear of Geillis Duncan! Even in death, she reaches out to touch the Frasers and MacKenzies, while haunting them with her secrets and her mysteries. At some point in the future, she manages to show up again… or at least part of her does?
In an odd twist of fate and time paradoxes or whatever one would like to call it…Claire is visiting with her friend Joe Abarnathy before she decides to go back through the Stones in search of Jamie. During their visit, Joe receives a box and is asked to give his medical opinion on it? The box is a box of bones?
Joe suggests that Claire give her own reading and diagnosis on the bones.
Now, of course, at that time, Claire had no idea of who this skeleton might be? That connection did not come to her until years later! And, the bones of Geillis as far we know are still out there somewhere waiting to be identified because Claire remained in the past…
Besides her bones, her notes and her Grimoire are still around as well? Those, though are mostly accounted for and were suppose to be locked away for safe keeping… Well, we know how that usually goes? Someone always seems to leave things out and naturally they fall into the wrong hands! This would be the case with some of those notes. Before we get into that, let’s take a few moments to examine who was in possession of some those items before they came into Roger and Bree’s “safekeeping”. It’s interesting and does bring up some other thoughts on who knew what and even who might appear somewhat suspicious. At one point, everyone appeared suspicious on some level…. even the easy going and domestic housewife, Fiona!
In 1968, Fiona is the infatuated housekeeper of Roger Wakefield. Coincidentally, she is the previous housekeeper, Mrs. Graham’s grand daughter? We all remember Mrs. Graham don’t we? The housekeeper with a secret life as a Druid Caller and Dancer…ohhh and don’t forget her sideline career as fortune teller! Now, whatever could possibly be suspicious about them? Fiona sets aside her infatuation and even helps Roger go through the Stones to find Bree, even goes so far as to donate her engagement ring as needed stones for Roger to carry with him.
Of course, Fiona does have a bit of explaining to do? She admits to Roger that Grannie Graham was the leader/Caller of the Dancers, and that Gillian Edgars was one of the dancers for a while? She also admits somewhat warily that now Grannie was gone, she was the leader/Caller? Hmmm one can only wonder what sort of lineage or ancestry this family has and what they could be hiding?
Fiona has something else to admit to Roger? She is in possession of Geillis’ Grimoire!
The grimoire is filled with Geillis’ notes, research and spells
Years later when Roger and Bree return to Lallybroch in the future, Fiona is happily married with a family… but could she still be hiding something or some involvement? Does she know something more that has put them all in danger? It’s just a lingering thought in my mind… there is the incident at her home, where Bree had taken the children thinking they would be safe there…. it’s one of those odd pieces that I keep pondering over and will remain unanswered for some time to come!
Now, on to the other notes of interest… the ones which Roger and Bree were keeping in preparation of some sort of guideline for future generations, the ones which Rob Cameron happen to get his hands on?
That brings us to the last piece of puzzle in the web that Gillian Edgars/Geillis Duncan began weaving in the future, wove all through the past right back to her starting point! She may be a box of bones now but she is certainly not gone or forgotten. Who knows what other plans she set in motion both in her present time before leaving, and in the past? As far as we can tell so far, her plans included some probable involvement with Rob Cameron, who could be the key to carrying out whatever instructions she might have left him? Her mysteries include her ancestry, her connection to Comte St Germain and missing years unaccounted for in France, her interest and possible involvement in the research at Orkney Island… and that leaves us with the mystery of her connection to Master Raymond?
This concludes our in depth investigation of one Geillis Duncan. I believe that we have covered every possible connection and thread that she left throughout time. Any remaining questions on her will have to wait until a much later date when more information on the infamous Witch known as Geillis Duncan becomes available!