Friday, September 24, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Absinthe


“Let me be mad… mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest,
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.

"I sit at my door, smoking a cigarette and sipping my absinthe,
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


FRAGRANCE

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.

"I will free you first from burning thirst
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 frapp&eacute. "
~ Glenn MacDonough


FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring
Please continue reading about Absinthe at the Windesphere Witch blog

Opening two images: 1. The Absinthe Fairy by Aly Fell 2. Absinthe Robette by Privat-Livemount
Content and other images ©Roxana Villa
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6 comments:

Luis said...

Absinthe: When I was young we used to call Ajenjo a very alcoholic beverage (80 degrees).
Kind of ceremony, in a cocktail glass we poored the ajenjo up to the middle. On top, on a special spoon with holes a sugar cube. Ajenjo over it and then flamed for ten seconds. Next water over what was left of the sugar cube. Voilà.
Dangerous drink Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde suffered the consecuences.
Luis Villa

Roxana said...

How interesting that it has such a different name in Argentina.
The "suffering" of artists and the drink is part of the urban mythology I mention in my post. It wasn't necessarily Absinthe that caused madness, it was more a collection of of items which included alcohol.

jasmoon-butterfly said...

Wonderful post, very informative.Thank you for sharing :0)
love & light
Trace x

mermaiden said...

Ah, the romance of the tragic artist, so entangled with the mystic veil around this potion!

Roxana said...

Thanks for stopping in Trace! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Roxana said...

Hi MerMaiden, your comment is so well stated, thanks for adding it to the thread.