John Sebastian Marlowe Ward - The Higher Degrees Handbook (175.0 Kb)
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In attempting to give an outline sketch of the various degrees in Freemasonry in a book of his description, I am faced by many difficulties, not the least of which is how to write in an interesting way about degrees, which many of my readers have not taken, without giving way more than is permissible.One of my reasons for writing this book is to encourage Brethren to take these "Advanced degrees." We still meet Brethren who say that there is nothing beyond the Craft worth taking. As one who has taken all the degrees for whic... More >>>
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In attempting to give an outline sketch of the various degrees in Freemasonry in a book of his description, I am faced by many difficulties, not the least of which is how to write in an interesting way about degrees, which many of my readers have not taken, without giving way more than is permissible.
One of my reasons for writing this book is to encourage Brethren to take these "Advanced degrees." We still meet Brethren who say that there is nothing beyond the Craft worth taking. As one who has taken all the degrees for which he is qualified, I can state from personal experience that, with one or two small exceptions, practically all the degrees are of the greatest value.
Of course, my readers must bear in mind that a Brother gets out of Masonry in proportion to what he brings into it. If he approaches it with a keen intellectual mind, based on a reasonable amount of study of the meaning of symbolism, he naturally will learn far more than if he approaches it merely from the point of view of a man who knows a good dinner when he eats one, and cares nothing about the meaning of the ceremonies which take place in the Lodge Room.
In conclusion I must express my indebtedness to Messrs. Toye & Co. for the loan of the blocks which illustrate this book.
John Sebastian Marlowe Ward was born on 22nd December 1885 in what is now known as Belize City, British Honduras and died on July 2nd, 1949 near Limassol Cyprus.
His father, the Reverend Herbert M. Ward was an Anglican priest serving the English community in British Honduras, when his first son, John, was born, but was recalled to England late in 1888, after which he took up a new post as curate of St Mary's Church, London. John and his younger brother Reginald, grew up in London where the boys attended the Merchant Taylor's School. The brothers were close and within the family John was always known as "Jack" and Reginald as "Rex". In this article, however, we will continue to call John Ward, "John", the name by which he was known to the world.
John had extremely poor eyesight and wore thick glasses from a very young age, but he was bright and went on to Trinity College Cambridge. There at the age of nineteen, he married his second cousin Caroline Lanchester who was several years older than he and by whom he had a daughter, Blanche. He graduated with honours from Cambridge in 1908, majoring in History, and his first book, a short history of "Brasses" was published at about the same time. He commenced work as a teacher and also began to write about History and Freemasonry, in which he had always been interested.
Over the next twenty years he was to produce a large number of books on the history and spiritual meanings of Freemasonry. He also wrote for various journals and became a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica on several subjects, and remained listed as such till long after his death.
His Masonic books discuss not only the Western forms of Freemasonry, but various other similar secret societies both past and present in different parts of the world. Most of these books are still in print and many are still regarded as authoritative by modern Freemasons almost a century after they were first written. There are literally hundreds of references to J.S.M. Ward and his Masonic books on the internet.
John Ward's career as a Freemason was an illustrious one, but it was merely a passing phase in the journey of his life. He had always been interested in many other subjects, particularly history, religion and science, but a completely new dimension was added to his researches early in 1914. On 5th January 1914 his uncle and grand father-in-law, Herbert J. Lanchester died unexpectedly and a week later John had a dream that was to introduce him to the then "way-out" world of spiritualism.
In 1918, John Ward obtained employment with the Federation of British Industry and remained with them until 1930, by which time he had become head of the Intelligence Department - that is to say that he was responsible for assessing business opportunities around the world and making recommendations to British Investors. As the Great Depression, was then wracking the land, no one could understand why he resigned in 1930, but to him there was a very good reason.
They married soon after and still in 1927, John gave a series of lectures, in which he explained his discoveries and his new calling. From those who came to listen he gained a few followers and the whole group pooled its resources. They purchased a large house in Barnet on the outskirts of London and then built a church on the property, which was also adorned with many antiques and works of art. In 1930, John Ward resigned from his job at the Federation of British Industry and with the help of his community established the country's first Folk Park.
Ward died peacefully in his sleep on July 2nd 1949. Feeling a little unwell, he had taken a nap after lunch and could not be awakened at about 2. 30 p.m. The closest doctor, Dr. Frangos, summoned from Limassol, determined that he had died of a heart attack brought on by high blood pressure. Jessie Ward was later told that death and been caused by the rupture of a large blood vessel in the head (a stroke).
Since that time he has continued to watch over and guide his successors, and through his writings even those who have no real interest in him as a person, have been able to draw closer to the Goal of all our striving. This website is just one more stage in bringing his message to the world. May he himself continue to watch over it and all who read it.