Mysterious Crystal Skull

by Neve O'Brien
(London, U.K.)

JoAnn Parks holds a crystal skull named Max at Pilgrim's Way Bookstore

JoAnn Parks holds a crystal skull named Max at Pilgrim's Way Bookstore

Rare crystal skull comes to Carmel
Monterey Herald Staff Writer

The largest of 13 legendary crystal skulls, considered by some to be one of the rarest artifacts ever found, is on exhibit today at Pilgrim's Way Bookstore in Carmel.

The store, near Sixth Avenue and Dolores Street, will host today's 7p.m. lecture by the skull's owner, JoAnn Parks of Houston.

The 18-pound, 2-ounce skull named Max is at least 10,000 years old by some estimates and purportedly was used by Mayan priests for healing and prayer. The skulls have been mythologized in literature, sci-fi television, video games and other popular culture, most recently in the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

Skeptics insist that some of the indentations in the skulls were carved using jeweler's equipment that was developed in the 19th century, challenging their authenticity.

Parks, who was raised in a traditional Lutheran family, harbors none of those doubts about Max, which she says was given to her more than 31 years ago by a man named Norbu Chen, reputedly a powerful healer from a Tibetan sect known as the Red Hat Lamas.

"These are photos of the energy he produces, and Max is the only one in the world that does this," Parks said as she pointed to several photographs of the skull exuding flamelike apparitions during one-on-one sessions with believers.

"This man had been in a wreck and had injured his spine, and you can see Max duplicating his spine in the photo. I've had a lot of doctors and chiropractors look at this, and they're amazed."

The Pilgrim's Way was crowded Friday afternoon with people anxious to meet Parks, and some were willing to pay up to $65 for a private, half-hour meditation session with Max in a back room. The offer that will be available today at the book store, and tonight after the lecture.

Chen purportedly got the skull from Guatemalan shamans. He gave the skull to JoAnn and Carl Parks after learning their 12-year-old daughter, Diana Linn, was afflicted with bone cancer that was expected to kill her within three months.

"His parting words to us, when he gave us the skull, were, 'Take care of this, and one day you'll know what it's for and what it's about." JoAnn Parks believes the skull extended her daughter's life by four and a half years.

"This was not part of my life, you know? I was raised mainstream religious," she said. "But I've always had an open mind and a willingness to learn, and I feel that if you don't have those things, you lose the vision."

The skull spent its first 10 years in an old cosmetics case until, JoAnn said, it began speaking to her in her dreams.

"He would telepathically tell me during my dreams that he was looking for a particular person. I'd go over to the closet and I could feel him calling me, telling me, 'You haven't found this person.' And my reaction was to push him a little bit farther back in the closet. And that's when all the synchronicity set in."

After consulting with various people, including a curator at the Houston Museum, she says, she took the skull home and said, "One of these days, Skull, I'll find this person you're looking for.

"And that's when he said to me, loudly and clearly in my head, 'By the way, my name is not Skull. It's Max.'"

She located one more expert, F.R. "Nick" Nocerino, who identified Max as "the skull of the white cap," and told her, "I've been looking for that skull since 1949."

"Nick Nocerino turned out to be the world's foremost expert on the crystal skulls," Parks said. "He started all of his crystal skull research more than 65 years ago. He was a paranormal researcher. He taught in 52 countries. He worked for the CIA. And I had the long, lost skull he'd been looking for."

Parks says her personal belief is that Max is 2,000 to 3,000 years old, and she has been told by scientists that the skull could not have been carved with jeweler's tools.

"To me, Max is a tool of focus and solace," she said. "He's here to inspire. He's here to encourage your spirit.

"When you touch crystal, it takes in your own personal energy. It projects, it expands and it gives it back to you. It also works off the electrical charge of the brain. They can hook you up to a brain scan and, if you're touching a piece of crystal, they'll see more brain-wave activity. So there's a science behind it."

Dennis Taylor can be reached at or 646-4344.

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