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The ties that bind

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 04, 2008 at 17:48:

In Reply to: The ties that bind posted by Smokey Stover on May 04, 2008 at 17:35:

: : : "The ties that bind"? I know it is in a Christian song (Blessed be the tie that binds), but I think it might be older from the same concept as "soul ties".

: : : It might be from the middle ages. And the phrase "blessed be" is used by wiccans and and sorcerers for conjuring... I just wondered if anyone knows the origin. I have never read it in the Holy scriptures.

: : According to my shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the use of "tie" in the sense "something that ties or binds in a figurative sense" isn't recorded before 1555. But it has been very widely used ever since (ties of blood, ties of duty, ties of affection, etc).

: : I have always wondered about "Blessed be" too; it simply doesn't make sense. Blessed be *what*?The King James Bible uses constructions like "Blessed be the name of the Lord", in which "be" is subjunctive, so that the whole sentence means "Let the name of the Lord be blessed". That makes sense. "Blessed be" on its own simply doesn't. I always want to ask 'Blessed be *what*, exactly?' I suspect that this is a bit of mumbo-jumbo invented by the wiccans (along with the entire wiccan religion, of course). (VSD)

: "Blest be the tie that binds / Our hearts in Christian love," was the hymn (from 1782) making more than one appearance in Thornton Wilder's play, "Our Town."

: VSD is absolutely correct that "Blessed be!" is just mumbo jumbo to give the wiccans something to flesh out their ritual, or give the appearance of something ritualistic. Ritual, after all, is something which other religions, notably Christianity, have in abundance.

: Phrases equally meaningless are easy to find in colloquial speech. I used to watch a round-table program on PBS called, I believe, "Washington Week in Review." One of the contributors was very fond of saying, "The public has a right to know." To know what? In my book, to know is a transitive verb. So what is it that the public has a right to know? Whether Bill Clinton prefers boxers or briefs? Whether or not Brittany is wearing underwear at this moment? Or just whether or not the pundits on PBS have any regard for the English language?

: One little point about wicca: the OED appears to say that the Old English word of that spelling should be pronounced "witch-a". But perhaps that would punch too large a hole in the wiccan mystique, make it sound too much like common witchery.
: SS