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I'm sorry if this has been asked before; I have tried to look for the answer. As a result of watching the Enterprise episode, Stigma, I am wondering how Vulcans bonded without mind melding.

By bonding I mean the ritual where a Vulcan high priestess links a Vulcan boy and girl telepathically during their koon-ut-la, or betrothal, ceremony.

A ceremony while we were but seven years of age, less than a marriage but more than a betrothal. One touches the other in order to feel each other’s thoughts. In this way our minds were locked together.

Mr. Spock - ST:TOS Amok Time (S02E01)

In this episode he also states that this ritual is shrouded in antiquity, which I assume means before Enterprise.

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  • Hi and welcome to SFF Stack Exchange! Please take the tour and checkout the site. Can you be more specific when you say 'Bonded' ? It will help us understand how best to answer your question? Do you mean Psychic link? Friendship? You can edit in your clarification.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Nov 13, 2020 at 18:24
  • I'm not well versed in Enterprise-specific lore, but I seem to recall something along those lines w/ Tuvok. If you can add in evidence that the mind meld or a telepathic link is part of the marriage ceremony I can see re-opening
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 13, 2020 at 22:10
  • Hopefully this is put a bit better. Thanks for your input. Nov 13, 2020 at 23:18
  • It may be worth noting that Spock is nearly royalty by Vulcan standards. They may have more obscure traditions in their family. Equally - Enterprise isn't exactly known for being continuity friendly. Nov 19, 2020 at 0:26

2 Answers 2

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You have to understand that the Vulcan's depicted in Enterprise are not the Vulcans you are used to seeing, at least on the surface. While they still retain the logical and unemotional qualities of they 23rd and 24th century counterparts, they have some very fundamental differences.

Most notably, you may have noticed

  1. They do not (appear) to have the telepathic abilities of their future brethren
  2. They are very much more militaristic than you would have expected.

So the explanation for why they do not get telepathically linked through their marriage is that Vulcans of this era are not telepathic, so the ceremony you are mentioning doesn't exist.

I'm going to hide the rest of this behind a spoiler because if you are just watching Stigma for the first time, I don't want to spoil anything, but they to try to answer why they are different in future episodes and seasons.

Last chance to hide the spoilers before i spoil anything....

There is a species you have noticed the Vulcans are behaving a little more like - they are acting like Romulans (just unemotional). Most of this comes to light in Season 4. There is a 3 episode arc which digs into the explanation as to why the Vulcans are different, starting with S4E7 ("The Forge")

In this Arc, the Earth Embassy on Vulcan is bombed, and the Vulcans accuse a splinter group they call "Syrrannites" of orchestrating the bombing. The "Syrrannites" are said to be following a corrupted version of "Surak's" teachings. So Archer and T'Pol go in search of T'Pau (yes the same T'Pau from TOS) who was accused of planting the bomb. During their quest, they eventually find T'Pau and Syrrannites. But things get weird when you see the "Syrrannites" are actually behaving much more like the Vulcans you are expecting. Archer eventually finds the "Kir'Shara", an ancient Vulcan artifact that contains the "true" teachings of Surak.

Meanwhile Ambassador Soval is up on Enterprise (under Cmdr Tucker's command) trying to help prevent a war between Vulcan and the Andorians. We've learned previously that Soval can perform mindmelds (which are supposed to be a rare anomaly). This is when the "Romulan" side of the Enterprise era Vulcans really start to show up.

In the end, we learn a couple of very important facts:

1. The "Syrrannites" appear to be following the true teachings of Surak, and this is revealed in the "Kir'Shara" artifact that Archer finds while on Vulcan.
2. Mind melds are something all Vulcans can do when properly trained, and T'Pol's illness is easily cured.
3. That the leader of the Vulcan High Command, V'Las, was secretly working with the Romulans.

So to tie all of this back to your original question - the Vulcan "mysticism" that you are used to just doesn't exist in the Enterprise era. They are essentially under the influence of the Romulans (via their leader who is in league with them). Eventually they relearn their telepathic natures and become the Vulcans you are used to seeing.

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  • Psubsee2003 Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. This isn’t the first time of watching the show, but thanks for the warning regarding spoilers. It didn’t occur to me that the ceremony doesn't exist, (ツ) and it’s helpful to think on it that way. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question. :-) Nov 14, 2020 at 6:26
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What Spock describes in Amok Time does sound alot like a mind meld, and may effectively have been a version or variation of that.

The key thing to understand here though is that mind melds were no longer a forbidden practice during the time period that The Original Series was set in (the 23rd century). They were a forbidden practice during the time period the Enterprise series was set in (the 22nd century). At that time, most of Vulcan society had drifted away from the teachings of the fourth century Vulcan philosopher, Surak, who was an active mind melder. The minority of Vulcans who still practiced his teachings, known as Syrrannites, were frowned upon by mainstream Vulcan society, regarded as dissidents at best, and terrorists at worst, even though they were pacifists.

This all changed in the Enterprise episode, Kir'Shara, when Jonathan Archer -- who at the time was carrying the katra of Surak within his mind, as the result of a mind meld with Syrran -- discovered an ancient Vulcan artifact known as the Kir'Shara, and brought it to the Vulcan High Command. This effectively legitimised the Syrrannite movement in the eyes of mainstream Vulcan society, and allowed them and their newly-instated leader, T'Pau (who also appeared as a much older woman in Amok Time), to become highly influential in the shaping of Vulcan politics and culture from that point forward.

As an addendum, it was possible for Vulcans to form a psychic bond with one another, or with humans (and possibly other humanoids), without undergoing a conventional mind meld. This came up in the Enterprise episode, Bound, when T'Pol explained to Trip that a psychic bond had formed between them as a result of them having had sexual relations some time earlier, in the episode, Harbinger.

T'POL: There's a long-held belief that when a Vulcan mates, there's a shared psychic bond.

TRIP: We didn't mate.

T'POL: Uh-huh.

TRIP: Okay, what do you mean by psychic bond?

T'POL: It's difficult to explain. Feelings, thoughts, even images can be shared.

This would appear to be distinct from a conventional mind meld on at least two counts:

  1. This bond apparently formed by accident, whereas mind melds (so far as I've seen) have always been portrayed as an intentional act, at least on the part of the Vulcan initiating the process.

  2. Mind melds typically involve an extensive merging of two minds, to the point where the individuals involved know each other's thoughts and feelings while the meld is taking place, and retain an impression of the other person's mind for some time afterwards. Whereas Trip and T'Pol did not appear to retain an impression of one another's minds, thoughts or feelings. The primary manifestation of their psychic bond was a series of shared "daydreams", where they could see and speak to one another within their minds, for short periods.

This instance of psychic bonding was one of several examples listed on the Memory Beta page for Vulcan bonding, along with the type of bonding said to take place within the koon-ut-la ceremony. The main thing that would seem to unite these examples, and set them apart from the mind melds we typically see on-screen, is that these psychic bonds are specific to those have mated, or who are intended to marry in future. It seems very possible, if not probable though, that these bonds are effectively another variation of a mind meld.

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  • LogicDictates- Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I need to just accept that it was a forbidden practice and frowned upon at this particular period in time, and there is no knowing how many Vulcans frowned upon it only outwardly. T’Pol’s comments in Bound are certainly a pointer that the psychic bond are a variation of the mind meld. Thank you again (ツ) Nov 14, 2020 at 6:28

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