Most people that know me would agree that I like skulls. I actually have over 100 of them in my basement right now.
Most are plastic or rubber but 3 of them are the real deal. Why the hell do I have 100 human skulls? Well…some people collect beer cans or stamps…I collected bone heads.
Regardless of what my sister thinks, I don’t think such a collection is an inherently evil thing from which no good could ever come. To me, they’re works of art. The angular features and smooth surfaces combine into something more than just some boney grin. Plus there’s the fact that skulls contain the most complicated thing we know of in the universe. Add to that a love of the macabre and maybe you can see why I find them so intriguing.
I guess that makes me a natural to talk about the crystal skulls that have been in the news lately. This is mostly because of the new Indiana Jones movie that’s out now but they’ve been in and out of the news for decades.
If you google “Crystal Skull” you’ll quickly realize that pseudoscience and the paranormal have usurped these objects, turning them into objects of enormous paranormal powers created by mysterious civilizations using methods unmatched by even today’s best technology.
The real history of crystal skulls, it turns out, is not that mysterious. The first generation appeared before 1863 and came from Mexico. They were generally small, about 1 ½ inches tall with a hole drilled through them. The drill holes themselves may in fact be pre-Columbian but it is believed that the skull visages were carved much later to sell to Europeans as trinkets.
Second generation crystal skulls appeared in 1881 in Paris. These were bigger and did not have any holes drilled in them.
Third generation skulls appear generally before 1934 and it is these large crystal skulls (many in museums) that are often accompanied by stories of supernatural powers or of an ancient meso-American creation. This generation also produced what is arguably THE Mack-Daddy Crystal Skull.
It goes by many names…The Skull of Doom or more simply…The Mitchell-Hedges Skull. This is the skull you probably have in mind when you think of a Crystal Skull. Arthur C Clarke’s old tv series Mysterious World used this skull as its emblem or logo.
Frederick Mitchell-Hedges was a British adventurer, world traveler, author, and prevaricator. In his 1954 book ‘Danger My Ally’, he made a fleeting and mysterious reference to a 3600 year old quartz skull. He claimed that he and his daughter, Anna, found it in the 1920’s in a Mayan temple in Belize. Apparently the skull was found with some of its promotional literature intact because it was claimed that Mayan priests would use the skull in macabre rituals and was often employed to will the deaths of others.
Premier Paranormal Investigator, Joe Nickel, pretty much blew this genesis story to bits by uncovering evidence that Mitchell-Hedges actually bought the skull from an art dealer named Sydney Burney in 1944. All the other implausibilities and inconsistencies and lies about this skull bring to mind that character Jon Lovitz played on Saturday Night Live. I can see Mitchel-Hedges saying…Yeah….this skull emits, um, laser beams…yes…laser beams from its eyes…..Yeahhhh!….that’s the ticket.
Some of the silly claims made about the power of crystal skulls include: -They have refractive properties unlike other crystals -They are always 70 degrees -Holographic images form inside the skulls -Unique energy fields are measured within or around the skulls -Some have been healed in the presence of a skull -When all 13 crystal skulls are brought together the world will end (I hate when that happens) Studies have actually been carried out on many 3rd generation crystal skulls in museums. For years these skulls were displayed as products of the Mayan, Aztec, or Toltek civilizations. Scanning electron microscopes show that they must have been created using relatively modern lapidary tools which were not available to meso-american carvers. I’m not aware of any of the crystal skull’s paranormal powers ever being put to the test. Most of the private owners of these skulls that are into the woo bring them to conventions or charge for private sessions with a crystal skull. I’d love it if the current owner of the Skull of Doom skull brought it to me for testing. I’d stipulate that if it fails the test it would be added to my collection. That’d be the ticket.