In the early 1980s, I went to the British Museum and saw a crystal skull. It was the size of a human head and carved from a single stone. I still have a postcard with a picture of it on the front. On the back it reads,
Skull of rock crystal. Mexico.
Probably Aztec, c. AD 1300-1500
There is also a sentence saying that one place on the carving is suggestive of a jeweler’s wheel, which means it would date from after the Spanish Conquest, not before.
I had spent time in Mexico years before and had fallen in love with the country. The crystal skull fascinated me for a couple of reasons. As a kid, I built a crystal radio set and was firmly convinced that crystals have or transmit energy. After all, my radio actually worked! It wasn’t a leap for me to imagine something paranormal associated with a crystal the size of the one in the museum. And the fact that this jewel was Aztec made it even more magical for me.
Who hadn’t heard of fortunetellers and crystal balls? They peer or scry into the depths of the crystal and see the future. At least, they say they do. Maybe the object they stare into simply helps them to focus their minds, to quiet the outside world and somehow allow information to flow into them. I don’t know how it works, but humans in a wide variety of cultures certainly seem to believe in the technique. Scrying has been used in many cultures for thousands of years and different objects have been used for divination purposes. People have stared into water, oil, black mirrors, stones, and other objects, most of which reflect light. They did so in ancient Egypt, Persia, and Greece. The Celts did it. Nostradamus used water. John Dee, alchemist. mathematician, an advisor to Elizabeth I, used a polish obsidian mirror, a piece that is on display on the British Museum.
So is this wonderful piece on the right. This is a photo taken by my friend Caroline Wise of a obsidian associated with a major Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, or Smoking Mirror. The image reflected on the mirror is of another visitor to the museum, not a mysterious vision from the past. At least, I think it is; I wasn’t there.
Scrying is part of our literary history. You’ll find it in Pride and Prejudice and even in the Wizard of Oz. Today, every occult store will carry a variety of scrying tools. You can get anything from obsidian mirrors to a small skull in your preferred stone. I have a clear resin skull that I found in a store window in my neighborhood last year. I have yet to see a vision in it.
However, who is to say what the Aztecs saw in their scrying, if that is how this “smoking mirror” was used? Perhaps the skull I saw in London years ago was not really an ancient, pre-conquest artifact. Maybe what I saw years ago is no longer today even labeled “probably Aztec.” That doesn’t mean that there was no Aztec crystal skull.
There certainly is one in my latest book called The Fifth Sun.
It is available in both paperback and Kindle, along with my earlier books here.
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