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Max the Ancient Crystal Skull

May 1, 2011

By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Copyright Visionary Living, Inc.

There’s nothing like a wind-whipped, tornado-sky night for a meeting with the famous crystal skull Max. Lightning, thunder, blown transformers, tree limbs down, pelting rain, pitch black darkness — chaos in the outer world. Meanwhile, inside the sanctuary at Angel Heights, the country home and spiritual center of Jayne and Chuck Feldman in Upperco, Maryland, Max reposes in calm, eerie light, a doorway to another reality.

So set the stage for my first close encounter and private reading with Max, the most renowned of crystal skulls, authenticated as an ancient artifact hard-carved and polished long ago by a mystery artisan, passed on down through the centuries as a facilitator of all kinds of spiritual experiences. Meet Max and you come away with whatever you need: a knowing, an insight, an answer, a new connection to another level of spiritual awareness. I was not disappointed.

JoAnn Parks and Max

“The skull is a universal symbol of mankind,” said JoAnn Parks, the guardian of Max, who presented a lecture following a day of private readings with the skull. “We can relate to something that looks like self. Crystal takes your energy and gives it back to you. When you look into his eyes, Max is telling you, ‘I am you and you are me — we are one and the same.’ Max is about many things, depending on a person’s growth and understanding: Truth, integrity, respect, the awakening of self, the tapping into higher consciousness.”

Parks, who lives in Houston, has been the guardian of Max since the late 1970s. For many years she has traveled the world with him to tell her story and his story. Like many people who are catapulted into a spiritual mission, Parks never set out to be a missionary for a crystal skull. Rather, Max found her.

In 1973, Diana, the 12-year-old daughter of JoAnn and her husband Carl, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and was given three months to live. A string of circumstances led them to Lama Norbu, an American who had trained to be a healer of the Tibetan sect of Red Hat lamas. Lama Norbu had undergone rigorous training in Sikkim with Tibetans and in Guatemala with Mayan priests. The Mayans gave him a life-size, eightteen-pound crystal skull. He returned to the U.S. and set up a healing center in Houston, and placed the skull on his altar.

Through the work of Lama Norbu, Diana was able to live for three years instead of three months. After her passing, JoAnn continued to do work for Lama Norbu’s foundation. Prior to his death in 1977, he gave JoAnn the crystal skull, informing her that she would know what to do with it when the time came.

Parks packed the skull into a box and set him in the back of a closet. There it sat for 10 years — but not silently, for it started communicating with Parks in dreams and via thoughts that would pop into her head. Its repeated message: “Find the man!” Beyond that, Parks was clueless.

One day in 1987 she turned on her television and was amazed to see a photo of another crystal skull. She called the station and was put in touch with the people who had shown the photo. They were from a UFO group in Arizona, but were not the owners of the skull. They came out and examined her skull, and told Parks that she had something quite rare. At their urging, she took the skull to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the experts there also told her the skull was rare.

Max on altar for private readings

Parks went home, looked at the skull and said, “Skull, one of these days I am going to find ‘the man.'” The skull answered back in her mind, “By the way, my name is not Skull, it’s Max.” Parks said to herself, “Good heavens, I’ve got a rock in a box in the closet and it’s got a name!”

She contacted the television station again, and this time they referred her to a man named F.R. “Nick” Nocerino, who lived in California.

Nocerino, she soon learned, was considered the world’s foremost authority on crystal skulls, and had founded the Society of Crystal Skulls International in 1944. He was “the man” referred to by Max. Nocerino told Parks that he knew of the existence of Max and had been on the lookout for him since 1949.

Thus began JoAnn Parks’s strange odyssey with Max. She learned about other crystal skulls, and about a supposed ancient legend that there are 13 of them that are life-sized, and one day they will all be discovered and assembled together to dispense their collective wisdom for the betterment of humanity — provided human beings are evolved enough to receive it. The story may be more modern than ancient, but nonetheless, crystal skulls have acquired an international following in the past twenty-plus years as the doorkeepers of high spiritual wisdom.

Nocerino, who died about seven years ago, acquired Sha-Na-Ra, another skull considered to be authentically ancient. There are skulls that have been thought or proclaimed to be ancient, but in fact have been tool-made in more recent times. Max is composed of five seamed layers of crystal growth. Putting a tool to this piece of quartz would have split the seams, Parks said.

In 1996, Parks took Max to England, where the British Museum, working with the BBC and Everyman Productions, put him and six other crystal skulls — including Nocerino’s Sha-Na-Ra — to the test. The skulls were carefully examined by a battery of experts for tell-tale signs of modern tools. Only two skulls passed the tests: Max and Sha-Na-Ra. Of them, the experts said only “No comment.” Max was featured in the subsequent documentary that aired on the BBC, and then throughout the world. Since then, Max has been featured in numerous shows and documentaries.

JoAnn Parks with seven skulls tested by BBC in 1996. Max is second big skull from right. Photo coypright JoAnn Parks. Used with permission.

People wanted to see Max, so Parks started showing him in her home. Eventually the demand grew too big, and so she took to the road, showing Max at expos, conferences, seminars and lectures, and private events such as the one I attended at the home of the Feldmans.

I had a half-hour private session with Max, which I could use for whatever purposes I desired. Most people use their time for healing or spiritual focus, and my session was a combination of spiritual focus and research. Max was set up in a room on an informal altar, resting atop a light table that illuminated him. Touching Max is permitted, and many people comment on the charge of energy they feel when they place their hands on him. This is to be expected, as quartz crystal has a mild field of piezoelectricity.

For my private session, I had several agendas: Some personal meditation, and some experiments with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and ultraviolet photography. In addition, I brought some crystals to be “activated” by Max’s presence. While I was running my EVP equipment and asking questions, I took photographs of Max using a specially designed ultraviolet filter to see if I could capture any unusual light effects. The elements might have been raging on the outside, but inside I was in an oasis of peace with Max. It was just me and the skull.

The EVP yielded a few answers to personal questions. The UV photos had no unexplained light phenomena, but did show how Max absorbs light through his different layers of crystal growth.

Ultraviolet photo of Max

The meditation, during which I placed my hands on the skull, was meaningful, the results of which I can only describe as “clarity,” an enhanced state of awareness that lasted well into the next two days.

No one really knows exactly who created Max and other ancient crystal skulls and for what purpose, but people today who have felt affected by them say the skulls have a profound spiritual importance. In her engaging talk following the private readings, Parks underscored the connection between the skull and self. “Max is here to inspire and provide insights into many things about self and the past history of planet, and to strengthen the belief systems you already have,” she said. “He can help and guide everyone to find peace, harmony, love, compassion and forgiveness by being in the image of self.” Max is not about religion, she stressed, but about spirituality that transcends religion.

Parks said her own life has been transformed by Max, by inspiring her to her highest and best manifestation. “Max inspires us to be is the best person we can be to each other,” she said. “As we go along life’s path, we will always come in contact with people we cannot get along with. Take a step back and be as good as you can be. We should be especially good to ourselves. Max represents the self, everything in self and everything about self.”

From another perspective, Max also functions like a spiritual relic, an intercessory artifact that puts people into contact with the divine. The relics of the saints — their bones, clothing, coffins and personal possessions — function in the same way, as conduits. To touch relics, or even be in their presence, is to touch divine power. The “activation” of objects placed near Max or touched to Max is the same as the creation of a third-class saint relic. A first-class relic is a physical part of a saint, such as a bone; a second-class relic is an object worn, owned or frequently used by a saint; and a third-class relic is any object touched to a first- or second-class relic. Thus, the faithful visit a saint shrine and touch their personal objects to a relic in order to share in the intercessory power of the saint.

Max, of course, was not a living person, but nonetheless has an energy and even a consciousness imbued into him by nature, by his creator, and by the countless persons who believe him — and crystal skulls in general — to be a conduit to healing or spiritual insight. He is a first-class relic.

I was impressed with my visit with Max, and plan to do so again when the opportunities arise. I also acquired several small activated crystal skulls from JoAnn, including one made of reconstituted amber who gave me his name in a dream: David, which means “beloved,” and is associated with prophecy and creativity. David and his companions reside on my personal altar now. Who knows what he and they will have to say!

For more information about crystal skulls, visit