Gladys Osborne Leonard
(1882 to 1968)
Gladys Osborne was born on May 28, 1882, at Lythom, on the coast of Lancaster, in England. She was the eldest of four children born of Isabel and William Osborne. Her father was a wealthy yachting entrepreneur, and for the first part of Gladys’ life, money was no problem.
As often happens with many natural mediums, Mrs. Leonard exhibited early signs of her sensitive nature. In her autobiography, My Life in Two Worlds, she explains:
“Every morning . . . I saw visions of most beautiful places. In whatever direction I happened to be looking would gradually come valleys, gentle slopes, lovely trees and banks covered with flowers of every shape and hue . . . The most entrancing part to me was the restful, velvety green of the grass that covered the ground of the valley and the hills. Walking about . . . were people who looked radiantly happy. They were dressed in graceful flowing draperies, for the greater part, but every movement, gesture and expression suggested in an indefinable and yet positive way a condition of deep happiness, a state of quiet ecstasy.”
As Mrs. Leonard approached adolescence, she experienced great changes in her life. Her family underwent great financial loss and, from then on, she had to manage for herself. She trained her already lovely voice and then did some work in opera and theatrical companies, singing and dancing in various leads and comedy parts. During this part of her life, while she was singing at a local Spiritualist church, a medium told her that her guides were preparing her for a “great spiritual work.” She accepted the message, albeit not knowing quite what to do with it.
On December 18, 1906, her mother died. That evening, she had been staying with a friend. Although her mother had not been well, no one suspected that she was seriously ill. At 2:00 a.m., Gladys awakened with a strange feeling. She relates the story:
“I looked up and saw in front of me, but about five feet above the level of my body, a large, circular patch of light. In this light I saw my mother quite distinctly. Her face looked several years younger than I had seen it a few hours before . . . She gazed down on me for a moment, seeming to convey to me an intense feeling of relief and a sense of safety and well-being. Then the vision faded. I was wide awake all the time, quite conscious of my surroundings.”
The next morning she learned that her mother had died at 2:00 a.m.
Shortly thereafter, Gladys met an actor named Frederick Leonard, who later became her devoted husband and lifelong friend. From this point forward, her life as a medium took some definite directions.
Although Mrs. Leonard knew nothing of her guides, she had an inner compulsion to investigate the philosophies of Spiritualism and psychic research. She knew that the only way this could be done with dedication and responsibility was for her and her husband to remain in the London area. So, despite better offers elsewhere, they decided to accept the low-paying theatrical jobs in London. It was very difficult for the Leonards to make ends meet, but they knew that there was a greater plan in store for them and they would cope with the current situation, as best they could, until this plan became revealed.
During one of her engagements, Mrs. Leonard met two sisters, whom she called Florence and Nellie, who were interested in Spiritualism. Florence suggested that the three of them sit around a table to see what, if anything, would happen. So they made an appointment to sit regularly during the hour’s break in the evening performance. It took quite some time for anything to happen, but finally on the 27th evening the table began to tilt up and down. Using the old table-tilting method with the alphabet, a series of evidential messages began pouring forth. It was during these table sittings that Mrs. Leonard was introduced to her guide, Feda. Apparently, Feda was a Hindu girl who had married Mrs. Leonard’s great-great-grandfather, William Hamilton. On the eve of her return to England with her husband, sometime around 1800, Feda died after giving birth to a son. She had been at the time only thirteen years old. It should be noted that the guide’s real name was not Feda, but rather one much too long to be practical. It was Mrs. Leonard who chose letters in the name and called the guide Feda.
“Feda told me . . . that she had been watching over me since I was born, waiting for me to develop my psychic powers so that she could put me into a trance . . . I must confess that the idea of going into a trance did not appeal to me.” Despite her objection, there was a work to be done, and just as with so many of the truly dedicated workers for Spirit, it was not long before Mrs. Leonard decided to place the work ahead of herself and her concerns and allow herself to become entrance by Feda. Thus began her long life of dedicated service as a medium.
Mrs. Leonard was one of the most thoroughly investigated mediums of the twentieth century. For more than fifty years she gave remarkable evidence of personal survival to countless sitters. Perhaps the most significant in her life was a series of sittings she gave to Sir Oliver Lodge, the renowned physicist. In 1915, he and Lady Lodge visited Mrs. Leonard, anonymously at first. With the information given by Feda, they were convinced that they were communicating with their son Raymond, who had recently been killed in the war. Sir Oliver was not one to accept mediumistic utterances blindly, and he put Mrs. Leonard through a severe series of tests. But the evidence kept coming forth, and it became impossible to deny the obvious: Raymond lived on. Sir Oliver Lodge’s book, Raymond, or Life After Death, is an examination of his search for survival evidence.
Investigations into Mrs. Leonard’s mediumship were conducted by the world’s most noted psychic researchers of the time: Rev. C. Drayton Thomas, Rev. Vale Owen, James Hewat McKenzie, Mrs. W. H. Salter, and Whately Carington, to name but a few. She was subjected to very close scrutiny, not for any moral reasons, but because all noted mediums were being investigated at this time. Amazingly enough, she never seemed to be bothered by this, for she knew that she had nothing to hide in her work.
The material which came through Mrs. Leonard did so in a variety of ways, many of which were used by the researchers to determine its origin. They include:
- BOOK TESTS, in which Feda would direct the sitter to a certain book in a certain place in his or her home where, on a given page, the sitter would find a special message. Significant results from these tests were reported by many investigators.
- PROXY SITTINGS, in which the person present with her would be acting as a proxy on behalf of the actual sitter. The sitter was known neither to the medium nor to the person acting as a proxy.
- CROSS CORRESPONDENCE, in which part of a message would come through her mediumship and part through another medium.
For a complete list of investigations on Mrs. Leonard’s mediumship, you may consult the Society for Psychical Research – Combined Index, Part III, pages 50 through 52, and Part IV, page 104.
What, in my opinion, is most interesting about Mrs. Leonard’s mediumship is the way in which she and Feda worked together. Mrs. Leonard was, primarily, an evidential medium. However, rather than relating clairvoyant images and clairaudient messages to the sitters, herself, Feda would entrance Mrs. Leonard, and it was Feda who would give the actual messages from the Spirit people.
Mrs. Leonard functioned as a trance medium, with Feda controlling her. In that state, Feda, herself, acted as a message medium and related what she saw and heard from others in Spirit. What we have, here, are two mediums — one in body and one in Spirit — both working together, as one channel for communication. Absolutely fascinating!
A good deal of the research done with Mrs. Leonard revolved around Feda’s relating how she worked with the medium and how she, herself, was able to link with the various Spirit people and relate their messages through Mrs. Leonard. One would think that, with this setup, Feda would very easily be able to see and hear what others, in Spirit, had to say; but, such was not the case. Even though Feda was in Spirit, she had to mentally “reach out” to the various Spirit communicators and invite them to draw closer — in terms of vibration — to the circle of energy-consciousness which was established around Mrs. Leonard at the time of the sitting. In other words, until they “stepped” into that light, Feda was neither able to see nor hear the Spirit people with any real degree of clarity.
All mediums know that the key to successful Spirit communication lies in establishing a strong vibrational link with the Spirit people.
Hundreds of pages of the Society for Psychical Research’s Proceedings were devoted to the Leonard mediumship. Personally, I learned more about how mediumship works from the research done on Mrs. Leonard’s mediumship and from what Feda related about how she worked with the medium and the Spirit communicators than from any other source, bar none. It really does represent an amazing wealth of information and insight into the details and intricacies of Spirit communication. I would recommend to both beginners and veteran mediums: Consult these Proceedings. You will learn an amazing amount about your own mediumship and what you can do to increase its effectiveness.
Even though Mrs. Leonard never lacked for work as a medium and was often surrounded by many of England’s finest minds, she considered herself an ordinary woman using a means of communication which, to her, was just as natural as talking on the telephone. She was always open to investigation and never succumbed to the temptation of cheating. She had a firm understanding of mediumship and knew that one does not simply turn it on and off. When she found herself unable to work properly — something which rarely happened — she would accept this and acknowledge that fact to the sitter. When her husband became very ill and needed nearly constant attention, all work with mediumship ceased and she serviced him in his time of need.
In the forward to Mrs. Leonard’s autobiography, Sir Oliver Lodge wrote:
“To communicate with the spiritual world most of us require the services of a human being with an organism trained to allow itself to be used by other intelligence, who are thus able to demonstrate their existence and to send messages of affection or comfort. Mrs. Leonard is such a medium and has proved herself in the past to be the best or one of the best that I have known.”
On March 10, 1968, at the age of 85, during her sleep, Mrs. Gladys Osborne Leonard quietly passed out of the body, in order to continue her work on that higher realm of Spirit.
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