Recently, I had a review of A Surefire Way that really bummed me out because the reviewer believed I had gotten the idea for a main element in A Surefire Way from a movie—Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. After reading a few chapters, they made the assumption that because my villain planned to gather 13 crystal skulls in a circular configuration to unlock the secrets of the universe—like the baddie in the Indiana Jones film—then I must have taken it from the movie. It is a fair assumption to make, especially if that movie is the one of the few references to crystal skulls that you know.
The concept that the skulls reveal universal secrets when brought together is part of the preexisting crystal skull legend—one that has been around before Indy’s last movie. In the final chapters of A Surefire Way, when my heroes are fighting the Big Bad, the glowing skull group (seen below) is what they discover in the temple. I was inspired by a configuration I saw on http://www.crystalinks.com/crystalskulls.html:
And here is where my story and the movie take totally different paths. (Talk about bad timing for me. I started my research on crystal skulls a year before the movie was released. My plot was centered on the skulls. I kick myself everyday that I don’t write faster!)
But I digress.
I’m not here to convince the unhappy reviewer that my story was original (as original as storytelling can be). Many authors have written about these skulls before and will again. It is a provocative legend. My goal is to share my research on the crystal skulls and reveal (a little bit) why it is important to my U-Sec series. There is a method to madness. Perhaps another writer may be inspired to have fun with this legend as well.
Most of myths included in my book, I discovered by reading (a lot of) books on mythology from various cultures and studying occult legends. The skulls are no exception. I find it exciting to write a story that plays upon existing myths. (Check out my older blog about the Aztec gods in A Surefire Way.)
CrystalSkulls.com chronicles various skull legends that date back to an early 1700s discovery of a rose quartz crystal skull by a Russian monk. The skull was protruding from a mound that contained other artifacts over a thousand years old. Many believed these items were from an ancient race called the Scythians.
Fast forward to 1924 when British explorer F.A. Mitchell-Hedges (well, actually his daughter, Anna) discovered a clear crystal skull the size of a human head in current-day Belize inside the hidden chamber of a pyramid-like structure. During the ensuing years, public interest heightened around the mystery of this skull and what it was used for, especially when more crystals skulls were discovered in South America and the Yucatan peninsula along with a few others around the world. Researchers wondered if there were connections between the Mitchell-Hedges skull, European crystal skull discoveries and skulls residing in British and French museums.
Theories emerged around these skulls. Psychics claimed the skulls vibrated with healing energy. Because some skulls contained silicon (used in our computers as a semiconductor), some thought they retained information and when configured with other skulls they would unlock knowledge hidden within. Other theories exist. Crystalinks shares several. For example, one legend explains that the skulls were left behind by a Hallow Earth society. Others believe that the skulls are able to transform human consciousness back to its “natural state of light.”
A year before the movie was released, National Geographic posted an article on their website about the controversy surrounding the crystal skulls. Using current technology to study the skulls, researches found that the skulls on display at the British Museum and Smithsonian Institution were not created by an ancient culture but by a person using modern tools in the mid- to late 1800s.
Of course, this didn’t sway the occult community from their beliefs that the crystal skulls contained mystical properties—possibly given to man by an alien race many centuries ago. With the rise of New Age studies in the 1960s and 1970s came a renewed interest in these mysterious skulls that has continued through the ensuing decades.
The National Geographic article explores the skulls’ supernatural theories and provides several quotes from Joshua Shapiro, coauthor of Mysteries of the Crystal Skulls Revealed (published in 1998). Some of his ideas inspired A Surefire Way’s crystal skull legend. Shapiro and his colleagues postulated that the skulls acted like a mystical computer by recording the energy surrounding them and would “pictorially replay all events or images of the people who have come into contact with them.” As such, they stored the history of the world. (At least, the history of the world the skulls had been exposed to.)
Because Mesoamerican artwork prominently featured skulls, crystal skull enthusiasts connected the skulls to these civilizations, particularly the Aztecs. However, anthropologists contend that although crystal skulls found on Aztec sites represented deities and the Aztecs possibly used the skulls to invoke their gods, the crystal skulls didn’t retain special properties and powers.
I liked this idea of the skulls being used to contact ancient gods with each one representing a different deity. What if the knowledge unlocked by the skull group differed based on what skull is in the center? If it was the god of war, you would gain strength and wisdom of battle. If it was a goddess of love and sexuality, you could tap into this information when you held the skull in the center of the circle. Could the skulls render the holder a conduit for the god? Could the god then possess the holder? Perhaps the knowledge may be too much for an ordinary human mind. Would those chosen to handle the skulls be something more than a normal human?
Ari, my protagonist, wants to unlock true magic by using the skulls to summon an ancient god. It is up to my heroes, Surefire and Raven, to stop him. Unfortunately, once they open the door to the world of the old gods it will be impossible to close and lock that door again. The ramifications reach further than our characters (and my readers) know. Stay tuned. Book two reveals more.