Gladys Osborne Leonard
CELEBRATED TRANCE medium, Hereward
Carrington designates her as the British Mrs.
Piper. She saw visions as a child.
"In whatever direction I happened to be looking" she writes in
My Life in Two Worlds, London, 1931, "the physical view of the wall, door, ceiling, or whatever it was, would disappear, and in its place would gradually come valleys, gentle slopes, lovely trees and banks covered with flowers, of every shape and hue. The scene seemed to extend for many miles, and I was conscious that I could see much farther than was possible with the ordinary physical scenery around me."
Whilst a professional singer she acquired experimental acquaintance with the phenomena of spiritualism through table turning experiences. She sat with two
female friends in her dressing room. After 26 futile attempts a communicator appeared who called herself Feda and said that she was the wife of an ancestor of Mrs. Leonard who married her, an Indian native girl, very young, and that she died at the age of 13 about 1800.
From her first appearance Feda remained a faithful attendant of Mrs. Leonard and was always the first to come through when she passed into trance. During her first manifestations through the table her form and that of other spirit friends were quite distinctly seen in the subdued light on the white walls "like clearly-cut shadows, which showed up perfectly against the light background."
However, ectoplasmic materialisations or significant physical phenomena remained conspicuously in abeyance. Mrs. Leonard sometimes heard voices objectively, slight touches and little manifestations when alone, being always aware of a "suspended" or blank feeling whenever this happened. Generally, however, her acquaintance with physical phenomena came about through sittings with other mediums who had power in this direction.
The first time she herself heard the voice of Feda was in a direct voice sitting in
Dennis Bradley's house. It appears that even part of her own power, necessary for the trance control, was contributed by her husband as Feda was very clamorous against a separation which came about through her husband's professional engagements. She said that she could not use the power well enough during his absence.
Occasionally, for medical purposes, Feda gave place to North Star, an Indian who was never able to speak through Mrs. Leonard, but used her "hands and arms in an extraordinary way, making passes over the patient, and certainly he cured several people of different maladies."
In March, 1914, Feda gave instructions that Mrs. Leonard must begin work as a professional medium as soon as possible. At the same time the medium was deluged with messages ending with the words:
"Something big and terrible is going to happen to the world. Feda must help many people through you."
During the Winter of 1914, Mr.
Hewat McKenzie, the founder of the British College of Psychic Science, had some satisfactory sittings. On his recommendation Lady Lodge and Sir
Oliver Lodge came, after their son
Raymond was killed in the autumn of 1915. The first evidence of his survival was obtained through Mrs. Leonard. Through the attendant publicity, Mrs. Leonard became a celebrity. Sir Oliver Lodge secured a sitting with her each week for several years.
In 1918, for a period of three months, she was exclusively engaged by the
SPR. Out of 73 sittings all but three were anonymous. The report of Mrs.
W. H. Salter states that the sitters generally agreed that good evidence of surviving personality had been obtained and the complete trustworthiness of the medium could not be questioned.
The Rev. C. Drayton Thomas carried on experiments with Mrs. Leonard for years. Important book and newspaper tests were evolved. The story is told in
Some New Evidence for Human Survival, 1922, and Life Beyond Death with
Evidence, 1928. The deceased father of the Rev. Drayton Thomas acquired the ability to come through without Feda, who usually acted as interpreter for others, and he spoke directly from Mrs. Leonard's mouth. Evidential messages came numbers of times in this form: "In tomorrow's
Times, on page 8, column 5, about six inches from the bottom, you will find a name which will recall intimate associations of your youth between the ages of 16-18." The
Times appears to have been "invaded" systematically for information by this communicator who also disclosed personal traits in referring to his favourite books, indicating passages on certain pages in answer to questions put by his son.
In her autobiography Mrs. Leonard narrates many interesting out-of-body experiences. She often meets people in the spirit world and brings back memories of such meetings into the waking state. These spiritual excursions have often received striking confirmation through other means.
Source (with minor modifications):
An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).