By John Christoper Fine

Ocean explorers in West Palm Beach found the treasure of Hernan Cortez. Long after the conqueror of Mexico’s death, his family was shipping some of his personal fortune back to Spain. The cargo contained Aztec crystal skulls. The ship was lost in a fire at sea. It burned to the water line then sank in deep water off Florida’s coast.

Diver, art expert, and undersea explorer Dr. Victor Benilous was contacted by a representative of the Cortez family and given information about the shipwreck. Benilous was well-known for his work on the oldest shipwreck in the Western hemisphere, found off Juno Beach. The information he was given was sparse. It contained a log entry from another captain who had reported seeing a fire out in the Atlantic 250 years ago.

With the use of world-renowned psychics, Dr. Benilous and his team of divers located the wreck. One of the psychics was taken aboard the dive vessel. This same psychic is used by U.S. military and police authorities to locate missing planes and people.

“Dive here,” the psychic said. Deep below the spot where the psychic said dive, not 10 feet from the place where the anchor was dropped, an Aztec crystal skull was recovered.

Power? Special properties? Healing and spiritual abilities? Margaret Ann Lembo thinks so. Margaret is the affable owner of The Crystal Garden on North Federal Highway in Boynton Beach, Florida. The center conducts workshops and sells books, gifts, and jewelry. She invited Bill Homann from Indiana to speak at the Boynton Women’s Club and bring the famous Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull with him.

Bill Homann is a tall man with a moustache. His business card shows him in safari hat, in a tropical background, with the legend “A ‘Real Life’ Indiana Jones” printed beneath it.

He came to Boynton Beach with a PowerPoint presentation that showed F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter Anna during their exploration and digs in Central America. The vintage photographs depict the jungle around the Mayan city of Lubaantun, in Belize, where the crystal skull was found.

Margaret Ann Lembo’s introduction of “Bill’s intention of goodness and love,” preceded the lecture. Photographs from the 1920s showed Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter Anna on various expeditions, including fishing, a sport the explorer was fond of.

The crystal skull was found in 1924 inside a pyramid. “It is a perfectly made quartz crystal, anatomically correct for a Meso-American female, aged 25 to 29. The jaw and the top cranial part are the same crystal. It was one piece of crystal at one time. It is very hard to separate crystal. It’s brittle. The skull contains three prisms and two lenses built into the crystal skull. The only way you can do that is in zero gravity,” Homann explained.
The crystal skull itself was perfectly smooth, clear-glass colored with a detachable bottom jaw that could be made to open if the skull was pulled back. Ample opportunity was allowed for people to photograph the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull. After the lecture, Margaret took attendees in the auditorium by rows and lined those up who wished to place their hands near the crystal skull.
Linda Loparnos, a pilot from Tarpon Springs, Florida, made the long drive to attend. She placed her own small crystal skull on the table in front of the Mitchell-Hedges skull and placed her hands on either side of the large crystal.

“I bought it here tonight,” Linda said of the small crystal skull. “I cleared it with my own intentions so I could charge it. It came to me in a meditation while I was sleeping. The only thing I’d heard of crystal skulls before was on Indiana Jones. I read about this program in a magazine. I had to come see it. I’m on call, that’s why I’m dressed in uniform,” Linda said.
Dr. Benilous echoed the sentiment that ancient crystal skulls are symbols of special powers. They were used for healing and were said to possess the ability for learning and knowledge. Time Magazine featured Dr. Benilous on a cover story about treasures recovered from the deep after his discovery in 1993 of the Aztec skulls. There were then only 12 known to exist in the world.

The treasures Dr. Benilous and his team of divers recovered have great value in terms of wealth, but he has determined to keep the artifacts together and create a special exhibit that people everywhere can see. “We don’t even know how the ancients made these things or if they made them or if they were there when they built their pyramids and cities,” Dr. Benilous said from his office in West Palm Beach.
“I really believe in what the crystal skull is all about. A lot of people find it interesting. Others have a greater connection. Call it a skull of love: love for people, animals, plants. We are all connected. The time now is speeding up. Things are happening. By 2012, according to the Maya, it is the end of a 26,000-year cycle. The change depends on the consciousness of the human world—how we go through this change. If we can open up to a higher consciousness, it can be a beautiful thing,” Homann said.
“It is a good chance to get this energy moving now. … The Mayan prophecy is of 13 crystal skulls that when put in proper position, balances the planet. Several skulls have been moved. There are major energy points all over the world,” he added.
The city of Lubaantun encompasses 36 acres and contained eight pyramids, all overgrown by jungle, when F. A. Mitchell-Hedges discovered them.

“They were told that you could see the ocean from the top of the pyramid. His daughter climbed to the top of a big pyramid without asking her father’s permission. She was there at high noon when the sun was overhead. She saw a light inside the pyramid. She told her father. It took them six weeks to open a space where one person could be lowered down. Anna was lowered into the pyramid and she came up with it in her shirt,” as Homann described the discovery.
“Mitchell-Hedges gave it to a Mayan priest. They kept it and built fires around it. In 1927, when Mitchell-Hedges left, the Mayan’s gave it back, telling him to keep it safe. F.A. had it from 1927 to 1959; then Anna had it until her death in 2007. She gave it to me. They also found over 2,000 pieces of art that were given first to a museum in New York City, then transferred to the Smithsonian,” Homann said.

The tale of mystery continues. Dr. Benilous has not completed recovery of the sunken treasure off Florida’s coast, and Bill Homann knows the general location of a 4-foot-tall crystal statue that F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and Anna found in the 1930s.

“They couldn’t get it out, so they buried it. They were supposed to go back in 1939, but war started. F. A. worked for the Secret Service, and they wouldn’t let him leave the country. I’m going down there again to do a little digging,” Homann said.

“Once you see it, you’ll never forget it,” this adventurer told his listeners, a sentiment repeated by Dr. Victor Benilous, who also continues the quest for sunken Aztec treasure beneath the ocean. 

John Christopher Fine is a marine biologist and expert in marine and maritime affairs. Dr. Fine has authored 24 books, most about ocean and environmental issues. He holds the highest licenses as a master scuba instructor and instructor trainer.