A Primer on Zen Boozism Lesson 04

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Zen Boozism,

Welcome to Lesson Four of the Primer on Zen Boozism series of lessons. Lesson four is the first lesson of the second half of our six lesson series. We're 1/3 of the way through the 2nd 1/2, where did the time go?

If you remember way back in lesson three, which you received before the three supplemental lessons, I told you we'd be discussin' Mercury. Not the chemical Mercury, nor the car, certainly not the god, definitely not the planet Mercury either.


Nope x 2 

What the hell is it that we're going to be talking about then?

I hope we don't end up talking about this, but who knows for sure?

Thanks for asking. The Mercury that we'll be talking about this lesson is not really Mercury at all. It's just a symbol. You may remember how we spoke of Sulfur and Salt standing as symbols for the Booze Wizard's conscious and unconscious minds. It is my great hope that you do remember, but if you don't there's no need to worry. All you have to do is go and read lesson three again.

A Booze Wizard is a lot of things, but someone who worries about forgetting something they can easily look up should not be one of them.

Now back to symbols. A symbol is something that instead of being what it is, is something that stands for something else. Ancient Alchemists choose Salt to represent the unconscious mind and Sulfur to represent the conscious mind for reasons that make no sense to either of us- thankfully, it's not the sort of thing that needs to make sense in order to be understood.

For example, here's a symbol nearly everyone knows: 1. What's a number one? Who knows? I've never seen a real living number and I doubt you have either. What I do know is that when I have one dollar, it's not enough and when I have one stab wound, it's too many.

Symbols at work!

Why are symbols important?

Another good question! You're on a roll today! Symbols are important because they bypass a person's need to use words to understand a concept. The symbol represents all kinds of things that would be impossible or difficult to cram into a pile of words. At this point, what the actual symbol is doesn't matter. All that matters is that we can agree it:

  • Stands for something else

  • We agree about what that something else is

So when we say "Salt stands for the unconscious mind" we all know what we mean. If we didn't use symbols to symbolize the parts of the mind we'd have to go on and on about the pre-conscious absorption of information and all kinds of shit about the parasympathetic nervous system, and possibly quantum physics. No one needs to do that, thanks to symbols and symbolic thinking. In last month's picture book lesson, we used a heart as a synonymous symbol for Salt.

It's the same with Sulfur being the symbol for the conscious mind and one's personality. Now we don't need to go around jiving about cultural influence and potty training and other crazy jazz. We, thanks to symbols, can just use Sulfur, which was a picture of a brain in last month's booklet.

You might be thinking "Why aren't we talking about Mercury? You said we would be."

The reason is simple. So simple it doesn't need elaboration, but your point is taken.

What does Mercury symbolize to the Booze Wizard?

Mercury is the thing inside the Booze Wizard that goes back and forth between Salt and Sulfur. It's the concept of communicating with oneself. Mercury is a symbol for the part of the Booze Wizard that notices the Salt and Sulfur and seeks to make sure they understand each other. In other words, it's you. The noticer, the watcher of thoughts. It's the part of you that's trying to make sense of itself.

Told you it was going to get weird around here. That's enough for now. Next time, we'll learn some more symbols and discuss a fun game you can play with them.

B.F. Smith
Alchemist of the Blues

B. F. Smith (photo unavailable), also known as "The Alchemist of the Blues", is a time traveling Bluesman/Alchemist and founder of "Zen Boozism- The Path of the Booze Wizard." When he's not investigating chrono-anomalies or having the blues, he runs a mail order mystery school which mails out mysteries to those enrolled and then schools them.