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.
He recorded these early psychic experiences in his first psychic book, Gone West, which
was published a few years later. In it he describes how he met his uncle in the Realms Beyond, and then for more than
six months made regular contact with him on the Spirit Plane. When his younger brother Rex, a lieutenant in the York
and Lancaster Regiment, was killed in Flanders on Good Friday, 1916, John Ward deliberately set out to contact him in the
Afterlife. The success of his efforts is described in a second Psychic book entitled a Subaltern in Spirit Land.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Ward, unable to enlist because of his eyesight
was sent out to Rangoon, Burma as the headmaster of the Diocesan Boys School – an Anglican secondary school that provided
free education for the Eurasian boys of Burma. At that time there were many such schools in Burma and John Ward, by virtue
of his position wrote to Lord Kitchener, the head of the British Army, offering to raise a brigade of troops from among the
Eurasian boys in those schools. Kitchener’s reply was abrupt and abrasive. "England has no need of half-castes" was
the gist of it and so Ward’s grandiose plan was summarily dismissed, late in 1914. A year later, with England desperate
for soldiers, the army asked Ward to revive it, but not surprisingly the resentment caused by the first rejection meant that
most of the Burmese "half-castes" were no longer willing to fight for Britain. Ward persuaded a number of boys from his own
school to enlist, but they were far fewer than the full Brigade he had originally proposed to raise.
Whilst in the Far East, Ward spent time in Ceylon and India as well as Burma. He took this
opportunity to continue his researches into the spiritual and, perhaps most importantly, received ordination as a Brahmin
High Priest, in the Madura Temple in southern India. This, together with his studies of the Chinese Hung Society, led him
to take a further interest in spiritualism and theosophy when he returned to England. This happened early in 1916 for health
Ward’s health had never been good and since moving to Burma, his digestion had suffered
significantly. It was only later that he discovered that this was because his servant had been trying to kill him by mixing
ground glass with his food. Although he recovered in England, his digestion caused him problems for the rest of his life.
Soon after his return to England, his brother Rex (Reginald L. Ward) was killed in an artilery attack in Flanders, and
John Ward spent some time assisting him to become established in his new life beyond the grave. Shortly afterwards, their
mother, Alice Ward (nee Carver) died, and the two boys were also able to help her become established on the Astral Plane.
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.
In 1918 he had commenced to take an interest in the Theosophical movement, but continued
his links with various Masonic groups and writing his books. After publishing his second Spiritualist work he also continued
to develop his experience in this field, but through his father, who was still the Vicar of St Mary’s, John retained
his link with Christianity and remained a member of the Anglican Church until it rejected him in 1934.
In the experiences described in his first two Psychic books, Ward had explored the two
Planes of Existence closest to the Physical – generally known as the Astral Plane and the Spirit Plane. He had done
this with the help of a number of different inhabitants of each Plane but found that whilst each of these Planes
contains many sub-divisions, beyond them there exist many still higher Planes of Being. These correspond to what Christians
call the Realms of Saints and Angels, but Ward realised that he as a mere mortal could not hope to reach them. This perhaps
more than anything else contributed to the upgrading of his spiritual seeking, which began in the first part of the 1920’s.
It was during this period of his life that his wife suffered from a debilitating mental
disease which eventually killed her in 1926. It was also during this period that he first met his second wife Jessie Page,
with whom he was later to assail the heights of mysticism.
Many people do not understand the difference between a psychic and a mystic, and of course
the subject is a large one, but basically a psychic is restricted to experiences linked with the Realms of Man – the
Physical, Astral and Spirit Planes. A mystic may be a psychic, though he/she is not always one, but a mystic differs from
a psychic in that he/she can travel beyond the Realms of Man. This is achieved only through the help and guidance of
a Higher Being - a Saint or Angel, or perhaps even God Himself. This, of course is comparatively rare, and especially
in great mystics, there is always the danger of self-deception. There are a a number of key tests that must be applied
to eliminate this possibility
One may dream that one has met a dead person, or received some sort of psychic communication
from him/her but how does one prove to a cynic that the experience was real and not just the product of one's imagination?
There are, of course a number of ways, but perhaps the most convincing test, comes when one dreams of another living person,
who, when asked is also able to report basically the same experience. When one is a mystic, having experiences on Higher Planes,
such confirmation is extremely rare, but it was just this sort of confirmation that led John and Jessie Ward to realise that
their experiences were real – not just the product of an over-active imagination
For the Wards, the first such experience came in 1927, when they both dreamt that they
were summoned into the presence of a great Angel, told that Christ was about to begin His Descent through the Celestial Planes
to the Earth and asked to help in the Preparation for His Coming. This great Angel, of the order of the Thrones, was
to become their constant Guide and helper in the years ahead.
Needless to say they both agreed to dedicate the remainder of their lives to this task.
On waking their resolve was further strengthened by the discovery that not only did both remember the same experience,
but also that each had recalled details that the other had forgotten, and yet when reminded thereof, the second could not
only recall it, but could further extend the narrative.
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.
A Folk Park is an Open Air museum, which in this case was based on John’s already
considerable personal antique collection. The best of this collection is now preserved at the
"Abbey Museum" of St Michael's Church (Another church derived from the work of J.S.M. Ward) and those who are
interested may wish to visit the Museum's website at http://www.abbeymuseum.asn.au/history.htm