Absinthe - The Green Fairy

Publication Year: 
2003

Other Names
Absenta, absinta, absinth (German), la folie verte (French, "green madness"), poet's muse, the green fairy

In the late nineteenth century, poets and painters celebrated the green fairy as an inspirational and visionary aphrodisiac.

Absinthe is essentially a combination of the herb wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, and the liquor that contains this herb as the active ingredient. Because wormwood had been used as an intoxicant and an illegal abortion drug (quackery), it was discredited on the basis of its "overwhelming abuse" (Vogt 1981). Absinthe distilleries were closed and absinthe was banned in France in 1922 (Arnold 1988, 3043), and in Germany in 1923. Right about that time, the green fairy was blacklisted in Switzerland under penalty of fines and imprisonment (Ratsch 1996).
A drink called a Gruene Fee (green fairy) has been sold in Swiss bars since the beginning of the 1990s. At the end of the '90s, absinthe returned to the market England, the Czech Republic, and Germany. The version is not the real-- illegal-- absinthe, but a knock-off containing much less thujone, a plant chemical sometimes alleged to be responsible for absinthe's psychedelic effects, than is called for in the original recipe. The real green fairy can be purchased only on the black market.

Absinthe oil is the distilled essential oil of wormwood, which is very rich in thujone. It is normally drunk in the following manner: Place an absinthe spoon and one to three sugar cubes (to taste) in a regular water glass with ice cubes (optional). Pour the absinthe through the sugar cube(s) until the glass is one-third full, then fill the glass with very cold (distilled) water.

Absinthe's effect is different from alcohol and definitely stronger --more visionary and delirious. In a genuine absinthe intoxication you feel guided into other worlds by the kiss of the green fairy, the muse of poets, the divine poison of thinkers, the colorful fire of painters; and the next day you have a bad hangover, with heavy head and limbs.

In the aftermath of an absinthe hangover, poets have poured out their anguish on paper, lamenting the cruel and unjust world. They've felt the despair of lovers consumed with addictive yearning.

"Drinking absinthe is like a combination of smoking cannabis and drinking wine. The secret of the drink lies in the right proportion of thujone to alcohol. This results in a synergistic effect. Absinthe is bottled cannabis. I drink it in the traditional manner, with sugar and ice water. But, beware! After three sups, strange things happen."
- RT "Absinth" (Entheogene 5 [1995]:49)

Text: The Encyclopaedia of Aphrodisiacs Psychoactive Substances For Use In Sexual Practices. Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling, 2003.
Image: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Absinthe-Blanqui-Posters_i6409351_.htm

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