(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."
She did not look upon these
visions as anything abnormal. However, an inner sense guided her to keep
silent about them, until one morning, at breakfast, she said to her father,
"Isn't that a specially beautiful place we are seeing this
morning?" Inasmuch as her father did not understand these visions,
from that time forward she was forbidden to look upon these "happy valleys."
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
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 intelligences, 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."
This represents just one of
the many testimonials concerning the fine work and character of Mrs. Gladys
Osborne Leonard. Her work, recorded in the annals of psychic research,
represents a great source of understanding and dedication to the work of
Spirit. In her work, she set an example of honesty, integrity, and professionalism
which, to this day, may be used as a basis of all types of mediumship.
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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