most luxurious madness in the world.”
~ Marie Corelli
It seemed fitting that as we just celebrated the Autumn Equinox and Harvest Moon that Absinthe should be the one illuminated tis day. Known also as the Green Fairy, Absinthe is a flavored alcoholic spirit from Europe. Originating in Neuchâtel, Switzerland the first Absinthe drink was an herbal elixir made of wormwood leaves macerated (tinctured) in wine. The healing potion was similar to “bitters” and said to help with a variety of dis-ease including stomach discomforts, rheumatism and jaundice.
My first experience encountering the Green Fairy was in 2003 during a twenty day painting seminar in Austria. Each evening after dinner the artists in the workshop would gather to discuss art, spirituality, politics, etc and eventually head down to the steam room, in the spa. It was through the steam that I noticed a vivid green luminosity coming from one of my fellow artists glasses. He and a few others had glasses of the spirit with them. They told how they would sneak back the beverage to the US camouflaged in mouth wash bottles. This was before all the silliness with no liquids in luggage.
and I enjoy every day without a care in the world.”
~ Paul Gauguin
Absinthe was made wildly popular by the Parisian artistic sector of the 19th and 20th centuries. During this time period rumors spread that the drink contained dangerous psychoactive properties due to the high content of thujone contained in wormwood. This reminds me of some current urban legends about africanized bees or toxic natural perfume ingredients
Absinthe contains a “holy trinity” of herbs: Green anise Pimpinella anisum, Wormwood Artemisia absinthium and Florence Fennel Foeniculum vulgare. Wormwood Artemisia absinthium, a native of Europe and Asia, is the most popular ingredient in the trio and what the drink is named after. Wormwood is a perennial herb ruled by Mars with silvery feather leaves, woody stalks and olive green flowers. As an essential oil wormwood is not recommended in aromatherapy due to the high thujone content. It is considered a neurotoxin and as with the herb not recommended for prolonged use. If you decide to use the essential oil use extreme mindfulness and minimal amounts. Consider substituting on of the other plants in the Artemisia genus, which are not as toxic and please make sure not to take this essence internally!
The predominant ingredient in Absinthe is Anise Pimpinella anisum. Other key components include: licorice, hyssop, fennel, angelica root, melissa, coriander, and nutmeg. Ingredients tend to vary depending on herbs grown in the region where the Absinthe is made.
Almost all of these herbs exist as essential oils. To make your own Absinthe perfume find a pleasant ration between them and add to alcohol.
After returning from the trip to Austria I created an Absinthe perfume and am excited to now resurrect her. I pulled out all my notes and formulas. In reading over my notes the mind has devised even more ideas. First I will take a whiff of the original I made back in 2003 and decide what shall stay, what shall go, etc. It would be easy to fall into a remake of Vera or GreenWitch, both of those having herbaceaous and green notes. For Absinthe I’m thinking of a slightly different direction though…we shall see, or actually smell, what transpires.
That is born of a night of the bowl, Like a sun ’twill rise through the inky skies
That so heavily hang o’er your souls.
At the first cool sip on your fevered lip
You determine to live through the day,
Life’s again worth while as with a dawining smile
You imbibe your absinthe frappé. “
~ Glenn MacDonough
Opening two images: 1. The Absinthe Fairy by Aly Fell 2. Absinthe Robette by Privat-Livemount
Content and other images ©Roxana Villa.