When’s the last time you had the chance to meet privately with a globe-trotting skull?

Can’t recall? Maybe never?

Here’s your chance: Max the crystal skull is coming to the Leapin’ Lizards stores in Freeport and Portland this weekend. For $50, you can spend 30 minutes with Max and take advantage of what the Leapin’ Lizards folks and Max’s handlers call his “healing” and “spiritual” abilities.

Because Max is a skull — no arms, no legs — he’s not coming alone. He’s being brought to the area by his keeper, JoAnn Parks of Houston, Texas, who was in the custom furniture business when she first took Max into her home more than 30 years ago.

Parks said she met Max’s previous keeper, a Tibetan monk named Norbu Chen, through her family doctor while her teenage daughter was dying of bone cancer. The monk gave the skull to Parks, but she said she didn’t realize what powers Max had — for healing, for meditative comfort — until years after her daughter’s death.

“I was in a dark pit, and (the skull) helped me out of it. Through meditating with him, sitting with him, I was able to come through it,” said Parks.

Parks says the skull’s name, Max, came to her because he told it to her mentally. He also told her it’s an acronym but that she wouldn’t understand the words it stands for.

“I was calling it ‘skull,’ but then he told me his name was Max,” said Parks.

Crystal skulls, generally speaking, are quartz carvings in the shape of human skulls, which some people have long said exhibit spiritual or healing powers. Parks says Max was given to Chen by Mayan priests in Guatemala, and that a study by the British Museum in London found that the skull’s origins are “a mystery.”

Much has been written about how many crystal skulls are not as “ancient” as some of their owners claim. It seems many have been made in recent times, as things like psychic readings and spiritual healing have become more and more popular.

Still, lots of people believe crystal skulls can have some sort of positive effect on people’s lives.

Max and Parks will be at the Leapin’ Lizards store in Portland on Friday for sessions and a lecture by Parks. On Saturday, they move to the store’s Freeport location, and will be back at the Portland store on Sunday morning.

So what can people expect during a 30-minute session with a skull carved out of quartz?

“I tell people not to really expect anything, just to open their heart and open their mind and ask what they want to ask,” said Parks. “People can touch it, put their heads on it like the monks did, meditate, take a deep breath. Just feel the energy, let the negative out and see what happens.”

Leapin’ Lizards is a holistic gift shop, and offers psychic readings, classes, lectures and lots of things of a spiritual nature. Owner Melissa Ellsworth says she has many customers who are interested in crystal skulls, so she’s been trying to get Parks and Max to her stores for several years.

But their schedule has been too full. For example, Max is scheduled to be in at least 12 cities this year, according to the website MaxSkull.net. So far this year, he’s been in Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California.

Ellsworth said last week that the Friday sessions at her store were already booked.

Parks says she donates much of the money she makes from the sessions with Max to charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Max is here to inspire people, encourage people’s spirits and give people insight. He did it for me,” she said.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: RayRouthier