“Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the soul. The green fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul, but you are safe with me.”
– Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Absinthe was long thought to produce madness and bad behavior in those who partook in it. Its usage was blamed for everything from murder to epilepsy to martyrdom. There are many examples to be found in film, art, television, literature, and music supporting this kind of thought, many of which illustrate devotees of absinthe literally being driven insane.
But the Green Fairy didn’t always have such a bad reputation.
The term “Green Fairy” or la fée verte was first used to describe not only the colorful effect of absinthe, but also to describe the “cure-all” medicinal qualities that the drink was originally intended to provide, including epilepsy, gout, drunkenness, kidney stones, colic and headaches.
The term was later used to refer to the artistic enlightenment that many artists and writers claimed to experience while drinking absinthe. In fact, a great many artists cited the Green Fairy as a welcome creative force behind their work. However, this doesn’t mean it didn’t come with some side effects. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”
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