The Duck-Billed Platypus

I’ve been stalking the ghost of violinist Leila Waddell across the Internet….because that’s the kind of thing I feel constitutes a worthwhile use of my time.

Like yesterday’s Fearless Nadia, Waddell was a performer who roamed far beyond her native Australia, although if it were down to her recital career alone it is doubtful we would be talking about her 80 years after her death. It was instead her association with Aleister Crowley that recommended her to the ages: she was the “whore of Babylon” to the “wickedest man in the world” (and I like to imagine they had business cards printed to that effect).

Here’s a selection from the hundreds of books, articles and other resources related to Waddell indexed by the National Library of Australia:

1. A reproduction of “The Rites of Eleusis“, performed by Crowley and Waddell in London in 1910.

2. The only mention in a contemporary newspaper article I could find of Waddell’s fiddling around with the dark arts was the Sydney Morning Herald in 1911 (“Miss Leila Waddell, last heard of as musical High Priestess in connection with a novel form of the occult…”). Presumably her extracurricular activities were otherwise too inflammatory to be discussed in the media.

3. A Crowley poem dedicated to Waddell, “The Duck-Billed Platypus“, from the 1912 Book of Lies (“Dirt is matter in the wrong place./Thought is mind in the wrong place./Matter is mind; so thought is dirt”).

4. From 1925, teasing mention of short stories and a novel written by Waddell which, sadly, were never published.

5. From 1929, Waddell performing for a Sydney radio station, 2GB. Nothing too shocking there, but even though I remember 2GB being around when I was growing up, I didn’t until now know that it was started by the Theosophical Society.

6. “Two Anzacs Meet in London“, in which Waddell encounters New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield. “”I am always charmed to meet an Australian,” she said, in a cold, emotionless voice, which made me almost sad.”

7. Finally, Leila Waddell’s 1932 obituary.



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  3. Peter Alexander Vaughn

    Beautiful and talented Lady.

  4. hot – bring back the style !

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