Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spirit Guide: Blackbeard

BLACKBEARD

CLASS VII Corporeal Entity

Also known as: Edward Teach, Edward Thatch

Edward Teach (1680?- 22 November, 1718), better known as Blackbeard was an English privateer turned pirate operating from approximately 1703 to his death. He was particularly noted for his large beard which was often festooned with ribbons, or during battle, with burning slow matches. These had the effect of wreathing him in smoke, so that he resembled some sort of demon. This early use of psychological warfare allowed him to become one of the most successful and famous pirates of all time. 

The most notorious encounter in Blackbeard’s career as a pirate was his actions taken against the port of Charleston, South Carolina in May of 1718. Lacking medical supplies, Blackbeard and his fleet successfully blockaded the port for six days until their demands were met. Within the time limit, a medical chest was sent to the ships, and the blockade was lifted. The fleet belonging to Edward Teach began to move north to the village of Bath, in North Carolina.

While on the way to the village, where Edward Teach intended to take advantage of a general amnesty offered to all English pirates, his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground on a sand bar, and was stripped and broken up.

Following the wreck of the Revenge, Blackbeard received a pardon for acts of piracy in June of 1718. After settling briefly in Bath, according to legend he was sailing a small pleasure vessel near Windmill Point when he set eyes upon a woman by the name of Martha Piver crabbing in the shallows of the Bay River.

With her pale skin, blue eyes, and red hair, Blackbeard was instantly drawn to her, and after an invitation to dine with her at her parent’s plantation, Edward Teach, the once infamous pirate, began to court the daughter of the plantation owner. After a brief time, he asked for her hand in marriage, which she accepted. Plans were begun immediately, but Blackbeard wished to finish some tasks down by the village of Bath. He set out from Windmill Point, but not before promising to return and collect Martha for the wedding. He also claimed that he would have his crew announce his arrival by firing each cannon on his ships, one by one, and that at the sound of the cannons, all manner of crabs and fish would swarm the shallows where they first met.

Shortly afterwards, Teach set out, never to return.  On November 22, 1718, Blackbeard and a crew of approximately thirty men faced off against Lieutenant Maynard and his crew, sent by Governor Spotswood of Virginia.  Lured into hand to hand combat by a ruse, Blackbeard was defeated, and upon examination of the body, it was found that he had received twenty sword cuts and five bullet wounds during the battle. Blackbeard was beheaded, and the head hung on the bowsprit of Maynard’s ship, while the rest of the body was dumped overboard. Witnesses claimed that the headless corpse swam three times around the ship before it sank out of sight.

All of this must have come as quite a shock to young Martha Piver, as she quickly took to bed after hearing the news, never to recover. She died later that year, and was buried on her parent’s property. Since then, on some nights the cries of a woman may be heard by the river, and witnesses have claimed to see an eerie blue light bobbing back and forth, as if someone was looking for something.  It has also been reported for over two centuries now that a booming sound may be heard over the water on regular occasions (always without cause) and when the sounds occur, all manner of sea life crowd the shallows, just as Blackbeard had promised his bride-to-be.

Once Maynard returned to Virginia, Blackbeard’s head was mounted on a spike as a warning, where it remained briefly until it was stolen by the Brethren of the Coast (a loose confederacy of pirates.) In their possession, the skull was stripped of its flesh, and the top of the skull plated with silver and turned into a goblet, incised with the legend “DETH TO SPOTSWOODE.” Following the expiration of his term of office, Governor Spotswood elected to remain in the colony of Virginia, rather than risk capture by the Brethren. 

In addition to the paranormal phenomena attached to the ghostly cannon fire, the headless ghost of Blackbeard has also been seen in the vicinity of where the battle took place, a locality now known (appropriately enough) as Teach’s Hole. He may be either seen swimming under the water during the full moon, or occasionally waving a lantern back and forth on the beach, looking for his head.

While there have been no documented accounts of interaction with the spirit, due to the subject’s fearsome reputation in life, an exceptional amount of caution is suggested when attempting to make contact. 

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