Monday, March 23, 2009

Absinthe Article re-post


I was having an absinthe discussion with someone this weekend and thought I might take the opportunity to dust off this article from two years back. Readers of my LJ and of course Behutet, will have seen this before, but I hevnt ever posted it here. 

I realize that the NY Times has declaired Absinthe passe, and as far as the "craze" goes they are correct. There are some of us though that actually like the stuff and are actually happy that we can now purchase it in the USA. 

Incidentally, if you are looking for a good supplier in the US that has a wide selection try DrinkupNY. Not every state has approved the sale of Absinthe in thier own state and evern in NJ its hard to find anything but Lucid on the shelf at your local store. 

The Occult Secrets of the Green Fairy
By Inominandum

It has been over 90 years since Aliester Crowley sat in the Old Absinthe House of New Orleans extolling the virtues of Absinthe his famous essay “The Green Goddess”. Over 90 years since the last bottle of Absinthe was legally imported into the United States. Even with the new Absinthe becoming legal in the European Union, Americans have had to order bottles from overseas and risk the possibility of customs seizure… until now. 

Recently FDA changed its rules to allow 10 parts per million of Thujone, the active ingredient in wormwood, the same as the European Union. In May 2007 the first bottle of legally imported Absinthe hit the shelves of a few select NYC liquor stores. T.A. Breaux, a New Orleans chemist that has devoted his life to understanding the green fairy and making modern versions of the liquor that stand up to the original pre-ban recipes, was the first to take advantage of this with his new brand “Lucid”. Breaux shocked the absinthe world a few years ago by blowing away the misconception that the “Absinthe effect” was caused by large amounts of Thujone, the psychoactive chemical in Wormwood. After he had tested several bottles of belle epoch Absinthes and studied old recipes from before the ban, he determined that most of the Thujone was lost in the distillation process, and that the famous effect of lucid-inebriation is the result of numerous compounds from several herbs working together. I myself can attest to this as I have experienced the same effect from Pernod , an Anisette, and Absente, an Absinthe substitute made with Southern Wormwood, as I have from genuine Absinthe. 

In fact most of the old absinthes had even less Thujone than the absinthes of today. This is particularly true of Eastern European Absinthes that are labeled as “Bitter” indicating a deliberately high Thujone content. Thujone can cause epilepsy and other maladies, so these high-content Absinthes should probably be avoided. Today, it is generally agreed that the historical problem with Absinthe that caused the nearly worldwide ban had much more to do with a smear campaign led by Wine companies who had lost significant market share to Absinthe during the Phyloxera epidemics, than with the liquor itself. Finding people who were wasting away or committing violent acts on the stuff wasn’t hard, most absinthes are around 124 proof after all. 

So to celebrate the Green Fairy’s return to the states I decided it was time for another magician to wax on about the old girl. Far from the LSD like hallucinatory experience that some have accused Absinthe of producing, the real “Absinthe effect” is a peculiar combination of drunkenness and clarity, of inebriation and lucidity that makes it an attractive drink for creative types. You have all the perspective spinning insight and freedom from inhibition brought on by other drinks, but none of the tired stupor that keeps it from reaching the creative medium; be it paper, canvas, or the ritual chamber. Charles Bauldaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, and Earnest Hemmingway have all been inspired by La Fee Verite to one extent or another. Aliester Crowley felt moved enough to pen an invocation and essay to the Green Goddess, as well as include a reference to it in the Simon Iff stories. Recently in his book Vodou Shamen Ross Heaven broke the code of silence surrounding the Haitian Houngan initiation ceremony and revealed that Absinthe plays an important role in the process. 

Leaving the chemical analysis to the professionals like Mr. Breaux, when I first got interested in absinthe I noted that it had some very magickally potent herbs in it, that make it uniquely suitable to its use in certain types of magick. Here than are some insights into the hidden virtues of a few of the wonderful plants that make this magickal liquor.

WORMWOOD: First and foremost we must deal with the herb that gives Absinthe its name: Artemesia Absinthium known commonly as Wormwood. Because of its bitterness Wormwood has many diabolical and evil connotations in the Bible. In revelations for instance: 
“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. “(Rev 8:10-11)

In this passage the Star refers to the morning star (Venus) of Lucifer and his descent. Fans of C.S. Lewis will also note that the minor Devil that is being instructed in the arts of temptation in the Screwtape Letters is named Wormwood. The connection between Wormwood and the infernal realms is further amplified by a legend that it first sprang up in the ground trod by Nechesh, the serpent of Eden. In the recently unearthed (or completely fabricated) Ordines Descendens, Satan is referred to by the name Wornwood in the 1st of the 13 infernal Enochian keys:
“I bind unto my voice the strong obendience, ye first mighty Dragon of Creation, thou all powerful Lucifer, Lord Satan, who is called Wormwood…”

In practice wormwood has been burned with Sandalwood to summon the spirits of the dead. The Ars Philtron, written by Daniel A Schulke, the current head of the Cultus Sabbati, claims that Wormwood is sacred to Lilith and is useful in making “the spirit become flesh” in divinatory workings. In American Hoodoo the herb isn’t as popular as in Europe but has gained a reputation as a protective herb, especially for protection during travels. 

ANISE: When imbibing good Absinthe, stronger even the taste of wormwood, is the licorice taste of Anise, Pimpinella anisum. Anise has an extremely old pedegree and was listed among many aromatic plants in a scroll of cuneiform from the library at Nineveh, established by King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668-633 B.C.E.). Pythagoras recommended its use in treating epilepsy, an ailment that interestingly enough can be brought on by ingesting to much wormwood, thus displaying another combination of opposites that make Absinthe so alluring. Pliney the elder recommended Anise as an ingredient in Dream Pillows that would protect one from nightmares and aid in psychic vision, a use that has continued in unbroken tradition since that time. 

STAR ANISE: Not botanically related to Anise proper is Illicium Verum, or Star Anise. This Asian tree is planted around tombs and temples throughout Japan, but is known in Europe and America for its very fragrant and star shaped seed capsules. Though sometimes burned as an incense for generating psychic visions, just the smell of the seeds alone is often enough to excite the subtle senses. It is common for sorcerers to keep a bowl of the seeds on their altars or near their beds for this exact purpose. 

FENNEL: Another herb that appears in almost all Absinthes is Fennel or Faeniculum Vulgare. When Prometheus stole fire from Zeus to give to the mortals, he hid the flame in the hollow of a fennel stalk, thus forever connecting the herb with divine rebellion and forbidden arcana such as is connected with Lucifer, and the Nephelim. 

Fennel is further connected with mercury and the powers of mental acuity. The Greek word for Fennel was "marathon" because the famous battle at Marathon (490 BC) against the Persians was fought on a field of Fennel. Roman soldiers would chew Fennel before battle to stay sharp and Puritans used to chew the seeds to stay awake through their long religious services. 

American Hoodoo has a different spin on the herb. Here fennel is used to keep meddling people at bay: especially police. With Oregano and Black Mustard Seed, it is a common ingredient in so-called “Law Keep Away” oils, powders, and mojo hands. An interesting component when one considers Absinthes historical illegality. 

HYSSOP: Hyssopus Officialis has been the purification herb par excellance for centuries. Psalm 51 notes:
“Purge me with Hyssop; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”

It was used in Europe for combating the plague is one of the herbs used in the creation of the ritual aspergillum in the Greater Key of Solomon, which must be bound together by a thread spun by a virgin. Its Camphor like smell makes it ideal for banishing and clearing the head to make way for magick. Interestingly enough, Absinthe isn’t the only green liquor to contain Hyssop. It is also a main ingredient in Chartreuse, named after the head monastery of the Carthusian order where it is made. 

So what have we here? If the chemical virtues of Absinthe have been shown to be a peculiar mixture of stimulants and inebriants, than so have the magickal virtues. Wormwood, Anise and Star Anise for their psychic qualities, Fennel for its clarity, and Hyssop for its purification. The “Divine Rebel” connection of Wormwood and Fennel make this a powerful potion for works of Luciferian Gnosis. The color of absinthe lends itself to this interpretation as well: green being the occult color of Venus, the morning star. It also recalls the legend of the emerald which fell from Lucifer’s crown, that was used to create the Holy Grail. 

Far from the corrupting influence that Absinthe came to be known for, it has treated me well over the last few years as a cool drink to enjoy with friends on a summer day, and as a ritual libation used to invoke the Angel of the First Fire, who fell for freedoms sake. It is my hope that more magicians and witches will have the daring to experiment with our Green Lady as she becomes more and more available here in the United States. 

Summer Solstice, 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Every time I have imbibed this shit I have ended up so unbelievably drunk of my face its retarded. It really is an amazing drunk though, very much in the manner you have described here. At first you are drunk but walking and talking and laughing and speaking without slurring and shit like that ... and the colors are amazing bright and everything is alive. Then you are loaded, suddenly all at once off your face loaded (least I was :P) and in your head the most amazing things are happening but out of your head your laying semi-comatose in the back of a cab.

Every time my partner have gotten into the absinthe a ritual has taken place .. an extemporaneous juxtapositional ritual. Every time. Before it was legal here their were a few cats in Toronto that were distilling their own mixtures. The now defunct goth club the Vatikan used to keep a couple of bottles tucked away and I have recently met an interesting hedge-witch that brews it as well. I have always wanted a brew done with weed myself. What could possibly go better with the Green Fairy than the Green Dragon (booze distilled with marijuana)?