Trip to Washington DC (2/96)

Crystal Skull in
the Smithsonian

Meeting with
John Raphael

and the BBC
of England

(Pictures above, are of a contemporary human-size crystal skull
carved in Mexico within the last year, on display at
the Elestial Gallery in Washington, D.C.)

On the last weekend of February (February 23rd - 25th, 1996), my wife and I were quest of John Raphael and his wife Helena, the owners of the Elestial Gallery in Washington DC. A sequence of very interesting events took place for this visit. First of all, through Marc Whitford (see his article about his experience with a contemporary crystal skull in this Gallery) we learned of the Elestial Gallery, who was a member of our crystal skull list. I sent a letter to John last year (probably back in July or August, 1995) and we started to have a few phone calls. I discovered that John was an expert on gemstones and crystals and had in his store a few contemporary crystal skulls. We discussed doing a workshop on the crystal skulls in Washington DC but we all got busy at the end of last year. Early this year I wrote to John again and we started to renew our connection.

Then in the early part of February, I received a call from Kerry Thomas who was working on a project for the BBC of England (one of England's largest TV Stations) to create a documentary on the Crystal Skulls. I had heard discussion about this when we went to see "MAX" at a special showing in Wisconsin last November from Ms. Parks and also through Chuck Pelton, of White Knight Productions. I sent to the BBC an email after searching an address via the Web but did not get an email back. It turns out, the BBC did a search on the Web themselves and came up with our Crystal Skull Resource List and John's Gallery was listed there. The BBC was planning to be in Washington D.C. anyway, to film the crystal skull that the Smithsonian Institute (more on this in a moment) had so they decided to drop in on John's Gallery afterwards. John then gave the BBC my name and phone number and Ms. Thomas then gave me a call and asked a few questions one morning just as I was about to leave for my real job (hmmm...).

John then invited my wife Vera and I to come to Washington D.C., they offered us a room to stay in to be present during the taping of the BBC which occurred in his store on Saturday, February 24th at 5 PM. John also had on hand a contemporary carved human size crystal skull similar to the Mitchell-Hedges Skull (see John's interview below for more background) which he had obtained from a carver in Mexico (two pictures of this skull are shown above) and this is one of the things the BBC wanted to film, to show if modern carvers could duplicate the form of an ancient crystal skull. Also I was interested to see it as well (Editors Note: We will have a picture of this skull displayed on this page sometime the week of March 11th -- thanks to John Raphael).

So we went to Washington D.C. to see this new contemporary skull and meet with John and his wife and see what the BBC was doing with their documentary. John had also invited a friend of his who is a gem carver, hoping the BBC would interview him as well, to get a perspective from a professional carver how a crystal skull could be carved but either they did not have enough time or it just takes a long time when you are filming to get all the lighting correct, but they did not interview him. I was asked if I would be interviewed and of course I gladly agreed, as I have been searching for various way to share information about the crystal skulls. This was the first time I have participated in a documentary and it was a stiring experience.

First of all the camera was about 3 feet away from my face and I had to change my sweater as the color red does not photograph well. Next, they told me that they were using a high quality of film and thus I had to be very precious in my answers as they could not do many takes. I discussed with the producers and the director what questions they would ask and I just had to be spontaneous hoping my answers made sense. I would say they did about 10 minutes of actual taping, so we will see if they decide to use any part of the interview. It took about two hours to setup the camera for the right lighting and I answered to the best of my ability various questions about crystal skulls from the producers. I had also sent via Internet email, my lastest article to them which listed all the crystal skulls I am presently aware of. Besides taping myself, they took shots of the contemporary skull John had and also various large crystals in his store. I was also sorry to see they did not interview John, as he is quite knowledgable. However at the airport, just before we had to return to Chicago, I did have a chance to tape John Raphael (see interview at the end of this page).

The producers told me the schedule they were following for the show as follows. Prior to this trip, they had interview JoAnn Parks, the keeper of "MAX" and they had also visited Guatemala, where it is rumored the local Mayan people there have one (possibly an amethyst crystal skull according to Ms. Parks) or more skulls, but the BBC was only allowed to film a special Mayan ceremony. On this trip, they first went to Toronto, Canada and had an interview with Anna Mitchell-Hedges. Then they came to Washington DC and filmed the crystal skull in the Smithsonian Institute. They showed us a picture of this crystal skull, we could see it appeared to be made from clear cloudy quartz and its facial features were not as discernable as the Mitchell-Hedges Skull. Another person who was in attendance on this day at the Gallery was Rev. Dorothy Harrison. I had spoken to Ms. Harrison before as through an announcement on one of the newsgroups, I knew she had spoken at a UFO conference in New Jersey last year about the crystal skulls. Dorothy had sponsored events for the Mitchell-Hedges Skull and "MAX" in the Washington Area previously and was quite fascinated by the Crystal Skulls and was eager to meet me as well. We had spoken last year a few times on the phone (and she is listed in our Crystal Skull Resource List). What was amazing, dear readers, was that Dorothy and I have the same birthday which is April 17th. My wife said when she spoke to Dorothy it felt like she was speaking to my twin sister since Dorothy has that same fire for UFOs and Crystal Skulls as I do, apparently and the same basic understanding. This was another interesting coicidence of this weekend.

In any case, I asked the BBC how big was the Smithsonian Skull and they said it was 31 lbs but the most interesting feature was it was Hollow inside and quite large like 2-3 feet high and 8-10 inches wide. Dorothy felt from the vibration of the picture that it was an old skull, a geninue one, not recently made and that it was connected with 12 other skulls. The week after we returned to Chicago, Dorothy phoned us and said she had a chance to see the skull at the Smithsonian and it had a remarkable energy for her and again she felt it was quite old. She also stated that the caretaker of the skull showed her a photograph of a crystal skull that was in Germany, which apparence wide looked much more like the Mitchell-Hedges Skull than the Smithsonian Skull. The caretaker said the Smithsonian Skull will eventually go on display maybe after the BBC program comes out. Which BTW, according to the producers, the BBC show will be aired in England (for our British viewers) May 19th and in the U.S. it will be shown on the A&E Network, as part of the Ancient Mysteries series (as A&E also shared in funding this documentary) probably in June. So watch for it.

Sorry to get side-tracked but a great deal happened during these three short days. Continuing with the BBC schedule ... after Washington DC they were going back to see Ms. Parks and "MAX" in Houston, then they were going to Mexico to film a crystal skull there that has a hole cut into from top with a christian cross placed into (forget the name they gave this skull) and then they were going to film a reinactment of the discovery of the Mitchell-Hedges probably near one of the Mayan ruins in Mexico. After Mexico, they are headed to California where they will be working with Chuck Pelton of White Knight Productions to setup some shooting. They finished their filming on March 5th, and then returned to England. In April, they are bringing five crystal skulls to England, to do some type of test and analysis. Besides including the crystal skull in the British Museum of Man, they are also bringing, "MAX", the Smithsonian Crystal Skull, the crystal skull mentioned in Mexico and two other skulls which Mr. Nocerino has (not sure if these skulls are human size, old or ancient, etc ...). From the schedule outlined it sounded like the one hour documentary will cover a wide range of areas connected with the crystal skulls.

Lastly, on Sunday, February 24th, while answering some questions to a women, who a friend of John's & Helena, while we were standing in front of the class case, housing the contemporary crystal skulls, this women said, she saw a crystal skull in Turkey. Well, oh boy, another crystal skull popping up so I asked a bit further what did she mean. It appears while vacation in Turkey they visited the Bodrum Castle and in a special room, which one had to pay extra to see, not part of the normal tour, was a mummified body, a book (not sure what this book was about, but it was old in a case) and a crystal skull. As some of the readers know, I have a contact with George Pantoulas in Greece (right next to Turkey) who is a journalist that is checking for me to see if this skull does exist and if there some history behind it.

In the next section please find a quick interview I was able to have with John Raphael. I think you will find it quiet interesting. One statement he made which for some reason did not come out on my tape was his idea about the purpose of quartz crystals in relationship to Humanity. To paraphrase John, he said that crystals sometimes pick certain people so they can position themselves in key locations around the world to help to build a crystalline energy grid that will help to assist us in raising our consciousness. Some people are aware of this work they are doing with quartz and others are unconsciously aware............

Interview with
John Raphael

( BWI Airport, Baltimore, MD
with Joshua Shapiro )

Summarization of Washington DC Weekend after being visited by the BBC
(John: and by the Crystal Police).

Joshua: We have here, John Raphael, Sir Raphael, born in Australia, now living in Washington DC, owner with his wife Helena of the Elestial Gallery, the best crystal place in the U.S. ... John ...

John: Yes Joshua

Joshua: Summarize some background about yourself and how you got you became involved with crystals.

John: My involvement with crystals goes back about five years when I was living in Greece and I was making a partial living by manufacturing jewelry utilizing crystals and minerals as one of the components of the jewelry. I became metaphysically interested in crystals during that period and embarked on a course of study on the subject basically by reading all available books that I could find. I came to America approximately two and half years ago and established a wholesale crystal and mineral business with Helena in Virginia and approximately a year ago, we opened a crystal and mineral gallery in Washington DC specializing in museum quality crystals and minerals.

Joshua: How did you become interested in the Crystal Skulls.

John: I became interested or became aware of the crystal skulls initially during one of our purchasing trips when we saw some crystal skulls that one of the mineral dealers that we were doing business with, had on display. And being as they were related to the industry that we were already involved with being manufactured from quartz crystal, we decided to buy to a crystal skull and that was our first experience with a crystal skull.

Joshua: Can you describe this crystal skull you bought and share if there was anything that happened around the skull as a result of personally having one.

John: It was a crystal skull of approximately the size of an adolescent child. It was a very good quality piece of quartz that had been from and carved in Brazil. I treated it in much the same manner, in my analysis, metaphysically, as I would have treated a sphere made from quartz. And in fact, we added it to our personal collection, had it at our house in Virginia among a collection of very powerful and important quartz crystals and quartz spheres and it was not long before we were able to determine that this particular carving in quartz had very powerful energy properties akin to the most powerful crystals of other types that we had experienced to this time.

Joshua: From the pictures that you have seen (John has not been in the presence of an ancient crystal skull yet) of the so-called ancient crystal skulls (such as the Mitchell-Hedges, "Max", etc ....) , do you have some opinion about how they may have been created and can they be duplicated by contemporary carvers now?

John: Of all the purported ancient crystal skulls that I have seen photographs of (I will preface what I am about to say by saying that very few if any of the photographs I have seen can accurately show very much detail of the skulls), my opinion is based on experience, limited experience, with doing lapidary work myself. I do own lapidary equipment and I have done carving work myself. But, through our commercial contacts with famous and noted North American gem carvers, my opinion is definitely that any exterior detail on any of the skulls, the ancient skulls including the Mitchell-Hedges skull are most definitely duplicable with techniques that good gem carvers are using at this point of time.

Joshua: Can you go into more details what technique a gem carver would use to create a skull like a Mitchell-Hedges Skull.

John: Many different techniques are possibilities. The most common techniques for carving any object in quartz or any other mineral substance is to make the rough shape of the object using a series of grinding wheels similar in appearance to the grinding wheels you would see in a mechanic's workshop that with wheels actually made from diamond abrasive compounds in various grid sizes. By this I mean in coarse abrasive grades through to finer abrasive grades, these grinding wheels are used to roughly shape, the shape that is required, a skull in this case. And then finer and finer grades of abrasives are used to go from rough shaping to a sanding stage. From a sanding stage to a pre-polish stage, from a pre-polish stage to a polish stage and then to a finer polish if that is required.

There is also an alternative method which involves using abrasive substances, sand papers, the simplest form or one of the simpler forms in a hand-held fashion. The same process takes place, you start with very coarse abrasive grids working towards a finer grid. It could be done entirely by hand, the only difference factor would be time. It would take a lot longer of course. Using the machinery results in a great saving of time.

Joshua: In your store today, we have a contemporary carved crystal skull that is approximately the same size and a similar shape to the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull. Is there any information you can share about how this skull was crafted or where it was done?

John: It was carved by a contemporary gem carver in Mexico last year in 1995. It was approximately six months of work, working with a fairly fine quality piece of quartz, a piece of quartz almost of the optical standard used in the Mitchell- Hedges Skull. The gem carver apparently is of a long line of gem carvers in his family, if what I am told is correct. His family has been involved with carving from stone various ritual items used by Mayan groups for centuries. He does not use the ancient techniques himself, he uses modern machinery and uses diamond abrasives exclusively to grind and polish the quartz. There was a fair amount of difficulty with this particular carving with the articulating and removable jaw piece. The problems that occurred with this were that the original jaw which was carved from the same piece of quartz as the main body of the skull broke during the final polishing process apparently due to a mistake on the part of the person doing the carving. There was not sufficient quartz left in the original piece of rough quartz to manufacture another jaw piece. It requires quite a large piece of quartz to do this so another similar piece of quartz was used. The piece was used is not of as fine a grade as the piece used in the body of the skull and when I first saw this skull in Denver at a large international mineral show there in September of last year. My first comment was that it was a wonderful piece of work but that the jaw didn't look correct because it was of a different standard of clarity. That was the last I saw of that skull until February of this year, 1996, where it was one of the major display items at the International Mineral and Gemstone Show in Tucson, Arizona. It was displayed in a locked case in the lobby of the Pueblo Inn Hotel and attracted wide public attention.

I viewed the skull there, it was on display with this same jaw piece and I felt that, that was possibly the last I would see of it but I had a phone call several days after the Tucson Show had ended and the owner of the skull offered to allow me to have it on display in the Gallery but explained that mysteriously the jaw piece had broken into two pieces at some stage during the show. The exact details of that occurrence are not clear as yet. We hope to have further information regarding the exact circumstances of that break. He sent me the skull and the two pieces of the jaw and I proceeded using a very high tech molecular bonding material that is used for repairing fractures and breaks in gemstone material to repair the jaw bone. All went well, the jaw was back together and I left it to dry for 24 hours and then put the skull and the jawbone together whereupon the jaw broke again, even though I had not personally exerted any force on it. It broke in a different place than before and I having an appointment to have the skull filmed by the BBC (England) again, clued the two pieces together, it now having two breaks repaired in it and it did manage to stay together for the rest of our meeting with the BBC.

Joshua: John, did you have an opinion of about why the jaw on this contemporary crystal skull keeps breaking?

John: Yes, I do Joshua. It seems clear to me that there is a statement here and that statement seems to be that the skull itself is not in synergy with this particular piece of quartz that was used to manufacture the jawbone. The statement seems to me to be that the differing resonate frequencies of the two pieces of quartz (of the skull) are causing a conflict resulting in this fracturing behavior. It is something that I have seen a sufficiently large amount of times with quartz crystals when exposed to frequencies that were not in synch with them, I have witnessed them fracturing and break to varying degrees also. I am sure that when a suitable piece of quartz is found for a new jaw piece to be made from that it will work perfectly fine. But also it seems to me that a very simple way to determine whether the correct piece of quartz was being used to make this new jaw would be to simply meditate with the skull itself and ask it. That's something that I think any sensitive gem carver that had a spiritual connection with the working that he/she is doing should attempt to do.

Joshua: How did the contact with the BBC occur for the filming at the Gallery.

John: The BBC first found out about our gallery, Elestial Gallery through viewing a Crystal Skull Resource list that was placed on your own Web Site (the V J Enterprises Web Site on the Internet). My understanding was that they had not actually seen the Web Site itself but that somebody had given them a printed list of the resources that were listed there. They were intending to come to Washington D.C. anyway to film a new crystal skull that the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institute had in their possession.

Joshua: How did the shooting go at your store? What kind of activities did the BBC engage in to support their documentary?

John: It seemed to be a very professional crew, they had a crew of seven with them. It was not a video taping, they in fact used very high tech camera equipment and used super 16mm color film. This somewhat restricted the amount of filming that they were able to do because this high quality cinemagraphic film only comes in rolls of ten minutes in length. They had 60 rolls of film, hence ten hour shooting time. And they had previously filmed the Mitchell-Hedges Skull in Canada, had filmed the Smithsonian Skull and were on their way to various locations within the United States and Central America (Mexico) to do further filming including a reenactment of the discovery of the Mitchell-Hedges Skull.

They took detailed shots of this (the contemporary skull in the Gallery) crystal skull, they interviewed you Joshua. They didn't interview anyone else on film which was a pity because we had a very noted and experienced North American gem carver present named Greg Skully from Virginia Beach and I think it would have helped with their research if they had the opportunity to interview him. They also filmed some very large natural quartz crystals that we have in the Gallery with a view to showing viewers of the film the size of crystal that would be necessary to carve a full size crystal skull.

Joshua: Did the Director discuss with you what his goal was involved with this film project?

John: There were several goals. The producers of the film, a couple from a production company in England called Dreamtime Productions is to throw more light on the mysteries and perhaps the shamanic associations with the ancient crystal skulls. A term by the way Joshua that I think both you and I agree needs to be seriously reviewed by all of us. The producers told me that it was their understanding that the director had been given a briefing by the BBC that he was to try as hard as possible to debunk the entire thing of the ancient skulls and show that they are all fakes, whatever that means exactly.

Joshua: John thank you very much for taking the time to share. I hope we can do a future interview to continue this discussion ..........

John & Helene, owners
of the Elestial Gallery

Elestial Gallery

Wash D.C.

The Gallery is filled
with all types of quartz!

If people are interested in speaking to John Raphael directly he can be contacted via his email address at: or you can write to him or visit their crystal gallery at:

Elestial Gallery
Attn: John & Helena
1635 Connecticut Ave.
Washington, DC 20009

Phone: (202)-232-1957, (202)232-1853(fax)

( The Gallery is open seven days a week ....
  Please Note:We have heard that the
  Gallery may be closed {2/97} .. please check )

Sacred geometry
Great looking Sacred geometry jewelry of the designer David Weitzman.

VJ Enterprises
Attn: Joshua "Illinois" Shapiro
Bloomington, IL, USA
FAX: (206)