I am fey, so they say; I have seen the walking dead hurry to Mass on a weekday morning. I have heard the doors go bang and have heard their footsteps hurrying. I have heard the solemn warning through and beyond the bell's wild clang; the long clear call fron the tower. [From "Tewkesbury Abbey", p 162]
Messages from angels, spirits, and galactic aliens are being published with increasing frequency these days as we approach the Third Millennium. And sometimes, ratherthan acting as a blind channel for proclamations of wisdom or prophecies of doom, an intermediary will question his source directly and be rewarded by responses of more astute relevance. But rarely amid the current flurry of communiques from the Other Side does one encounter anything that comes close to intelligent and intimate conversation. Whomever, or whatever, these Beings are, and wherever they come from,you suspect that they would not be treated as welcome strangers at a company lunch, even if they WERE visible. But after reading "Sword in the Sun", I would certainly welcome its author, Anthony Duncan, to lunch, even if the appearance of his angel could not be guaranteed.
Before he retired to the splendid (relative)isolation of Northumberland, a gray stone's throw from his native Scotland, Duncan was a parish priest for thirty years, an occasional exorcist, and Honorary Canon of Newscastle Cathedral. "Sword In The Sun: Dialogue With An Angel" was the second and most extraordinary of five books he wrote during the early 1970s "within the context of a profound inner compulsion". He had just passed his fortieth birthday. It is a record of experiences he had over the course of several weeks, often seated in his study, in the presence of his "guardian angel" who, from the outset, encouraged him to write their conversations down so that others, sooner or later, could "eavesdrop".
What transpires is a grand journey full of surprises, subtle and huge; from dark mossy bog and bright Highland hill to the far-flung and horizonless corners of the mental world and back again, much as they have been seen and inwardly understood by the keenest and most sensitive of British folk -- poets or mystics, artists or vicars, warlocks or warriors -- down through the centuries and back again. Always coming back to the Presence, which is always, and usually in a small churchyard amid tombs and gardens, or in a spring breeze that sings among stones on moorland.. hymns that plunge and rise again, from sorrow to ecstatic union: a bliss, clothed in glories which may be Christian, with integral trimmings of high Pagan delight, but which enfold an essence that is irresistably inclusive and universal.
Yet "The Sword" is a small book, and modest. In some ways it is like an updated and revised version of Revelations for children. Even Pan, arch-deva of the animal realm, drops by to chat. Although what Pan says, and how the Qabala is unveiled by the angel, (along with some profound basics about chakras and reincarnation), seems slightly beyond the comprehension of an average toddler, never mind an educated theologian!
In other words, it is a soul-stirring book for all ages,in more ways than one, and perhaps will be understood best by those who have not been entrained by dogmas, churchly or alienesque. And for those who like good poetry -- because there's more than a touch of the laureate friar in Duncan as well as visionary bard of the heathery glen -- this book will shine like an amethyst at dawn. Review by Rab Wilki