This is an extract from Crowley's essay on absinthe. The essay is typically verbose and and not easy to read, so I have tried to extract the relevant parts. I am dubious about the effects of absinthe but Crowley waxed lyrical about it.
Ah! the Green Goddess! What is the fascination that makes her so adorable and so terrible? Do you know that French sonnet "La legende de l’absinthe?" .....
"The Legend of Absinthe"
Apollo, who mourned at Hyacinthe's demise,
Refused to concede this victory to Death.
Much better that the soul, adept in transformation,
Had to find a holy alchemy for beauty.
Thus with his celestial hand he drained and crushed
The subtlest harvest of the garden goddess,
The broken bodies of the herbs yielding a golden essence
From which we measure out our first drop -- of Absinthe!
In lowly hovels and in glittering courts,
Alone, in pairs, drink up this potion of desire!
For it is sorcery -- as one might say --
When the pale opal wine ends all misery,
Opens beauty's most intimate sanctuary --
- Bewitches my heart, and exalts my soul in ecstasy!
What is there in absinthe that makes it a separate cult? The effects of its abuse are totally distinct from those of other stimulants. Even in ruin and in degradation it remains a thing apart: its victims wear a ghastly aureole all their own, and in their peculiar hell yet gloat with a sinister perversion of pride that they are not as other men.
But we are not to reckon up the uses of a thing by contemplating the wreckage of its abuse. We do not curse the sea because of occasional disasters to our marines, or refuse axes to our woodsmen because we sympathize with Charles
the First or Louis the Sixteenth. So therefore as special vices and dangers pertinent to absinthe, so also do graces and virtues that adorn no other liquor.
The word is from the Greek apsinthion. It means "undrinkable" or, according to some authorities, "undelightful." In either case, strange paradox! No for the wormwood draught itself were bitter beyond human endurance; it must be aromatized and mellowed with other herbs.
Chief among these is the gracious Melissa, of which the great Paracelsus thought so highly that he incorporated it as the preparation of his Ens Melissa Vitae, which he expected to be an elixir of life and a cure for all diseases, but
which in his hands never came to perfection.
Then also there are added mint, anise, fennel and hyssop, all holy herbs familiar to all from the Treasury of Hebrew Scripture. And there is even the sacred marjoram which renders man both haste and passionate; the tender green angelica stalks also infused in this most mystic of concoctions; for like the artemisia absinthium itself it is a plant of Diana, and gives the purity and lucidity, with a touch of the madness, of the Moon; and above all there is the Dittany of Crete of which the eastern Sages say that one flower hath more puissance in high magic than all the other gifts of all the gardens of the world.
It is as if the first diviner of absinthe had been indeed a magician intent upon a combination of sacred drugs which should cleanse, fortify and perfume the human soul.
And it is no doubt that in the due employment of this liquor such effects are easy to obtain. A single glass seems to render the breathing freer, the spirit lighter, the heart more ardent, soul and mind alike more capable of executing the great task of doing that particular work in the world which the Father may have sent them to perform. Food itself loses its gross qualities in the presence of absinthe and becomes even as manna, operating the sacrament of nutrition without bodily disturbance.
Let then the pilgrim enter reverently the shrine, and drink his absinthe as a stirrup-cup; for in the right conception of this life as an ordeal of chivalry lies the foundation of every perfection of philosophy. "Whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God!" applies with singular force to the absintheur. So may he come victorious from the battle of life to be received with tender kisses by some green-robed archangel, and crowned with mystic vervain in the Emerald Gateway of the Golden City of God....
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