By Andrew Collins

I enjoyed immensely Kevin McClure's highly entertaining, and arguably tongue in cheek, review of my recent book Twenty-first Century Grail (Virgin, 2004) in Issue No. 194, March 2005. Yet I feel a few facts need addressing here. I understand if Kevin cannot accept that a modern-day Grail quest can be aided by dreams and visions, that is his loss not mine. However, suggesting that the text 'repeatedly relies on the grossly anti-Semetic conspiracist and liar Nesta Webster', is slightly below the belt. I am quite aware that she considered there to be a Jewish conspiracy behind global banking and world domination in the first quarter of the twentieth century, this is not in question. However, her 1924 book Secret Societies and Subversive Movements contains some rare references concerning Johannite forms of Freemasonry, and it would have been criminal to have ignored these when it came to reviewing what we know about this fascinating subject. I do not advocate her personal philosophy, and never even mention her name or ideas in the book's text - I merely acknowledge four brief references taken from her book. This is four references out of several hundred to be found in Twenty-First Century Grail, which hardly constitutes Kevin's accusation that I was 'misguided' by this woman.

Kevin's insinuation that I blindly accept a tangible reality to the Grail legend by ignoring the thousand-year gap between the life of Christ and the appearance of the first Grail romances in the twelfth century, is ridiculous. In Twenty-first Century Grail I ably demonstrate that traditions regarding the collecting of Christ's blood in a holy vessel as he hung on the Cross - by far the earliest identification of the Grail vessel - go back to the ninth century at least. What is more, it can be shown that the French word graal, as used for the first time in the initial Grail romances, derives not as is popularly believed from the Low Latin gradale, which means 'in stages', as in the dishes used to serve different courses at a medieval banquet, but from the Languedoc word grasal, used to describe a pot in which to put liquid. This would be an apt description of a vessel used to contain a blood relic of Christ.

Kevin says that the book features a vessel which he describes as 'a sort of green onyx or onyx alabaster egg cup', which he says I identify with 'the cup of the last supper used to collect the Holy Blood of Christ'. This is untrue. I never claim that this artefact, a small green alabaster scent jar of probable Near Eastern origin, known as the Marian Chalice or Hawkstone Grail, after its place of discovery in Shropshire in 1917, is the cup of the Last Supper. All I suggest is that as Grails go, it is the most authentic Grail cup in Britain today, yet not as a piece of 'crockery' for placement on the table of the Last Supper, but as a relic linked at least by the early nineteenth century, and arguably much earlier, with the scent jar used by Mary Magdalene in her role as the anointer of Christ. As I demonstrate, it was this vessel which went on to become the container of a blood relic belonging to Christ, a story that has its roots in an apocryphal work composed in its present form around the middle of the second century AD. For the record, that's around 120 years after his presumed death - not an entire millennium.

Kevin's further insinuation that 'questing', actually psychic questing, is 'a viable financial choice' for the subject matter of a book is somewhat sinister. Everything which takes place under this banner becomes a deep-rooted, personal experience, whatever way you look at it. As a writer, what then am I to do - simply ignore it, and hope it will go away, and in the meantime write books about flower arranging, landscape gardening or bus journeys I have made? Anyway, writing about psychic questing is no more lucrative than any other type of book, and Kevin must know this, implying therefore that he personally disagrees with the sheer idea of such a pursuit ever making it into print.

Kevin, by his own admission, 'can't share Andy's faith in his friends' dreams, and visions, and remote viewings', even though many of the key dream sequences in the book were actually experienced by me. Just what it is that he has against such intuitive methods of investigation? It didn't hurt Kekule, Einstein or Crick, who all solved pressing enigmas of science by allowing their unconscious minds to speak to them. Just take a moment will you to think about psychic questing. For you never know - readers out there might not think it as big a joke as Kevin McClure obviously thinks they do.