The Green Fairy and Artemis

The Green Fairy is the female embodiment of the strange, oft-mistrusted green elixir. Her intoxicating beauty and green glow inspired multitudes of artists over the centuries, and seduced so many more that it was banned in the early 1900s.

But there is evidence that, long before the massive rise of absinthe consumption in Europe, ancient Greeks made a wormwood-enhanced wine called absinthites oinos, which was very similar to the Green Fairy drink popularized in France in the 1860s.

However, the Greek version of the drink was most likely used for its healing properties. Artemisia absinthium, a species of wormwood, derives its name from Artemis, the Hellenic goddess of hunt, wilderness, chastity and childbirth, and curing ailments in women. Artemis, the Greek female deity that was worshipped for her power over the wilderness, childbirth, and virginity, was said to have assisted her mother in the birth of her own twin brother, Apollo, mere minutes after her own birth.

It seems likely that the Greek chose to use Artemis’ name because of wormwood’s many therapeutic uses, including promoting menstruation and soothing labor pains.