Monday, October 15, 2012

My First Runish Font

If you open my notebooks or journals you will see they are written in Runes. I have adapted the Runes for writing modern English and have even begun using Rune numbers. But recently I decided I wanted to write in Runes on my computer. There are actually many fine Runic fonts available, but they are lacking the punctuation I use and they do not use a doubled thorn for the Dagaz Rune. The other fonts are also lacking the Rune numbers that I use. So, long story short, I made my own font.

I used the free tools at FontStruct to make the font I am calling Nu-Runish. This is my first full font and the tools at FontStruct are pretty primitive. The font feels fairly clunky, but still feels more like "my Runes" than any of the polished fonts I can find. This font is released under the creative commons license. If for some reason you do not see the font embedded in this post, find it at FontStruct here:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Polyphanes over at The Digital Ambler nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. I have been sort of slow in the accepting process. Real world, blah blah blah...

First, thank you Polyphanes! You are a very crafty sort and I am glad you can appreciate and bring into the real world some of the things I dream up. I'm sure you will be interested in some of the things I have on the back burner. Expect to see them some time after I find a place to live and finally move there.

Fifteen Blogs...

In keeping with the VBA rules, I am supposed to list 15 blogs I have either recently discovered or follow regularly. To be honest, I don't follow any blogs regularly. I read the internet and everything on it. I spend a great deal of time on wikipedia, tutorial sites, YouTube, and google books. But I will start my list and leave space for more as I come across them. The first four blogs have been in my bookmarks for years. I really like them and hope you do too.
1) Grim Reviews:
2) Papers Falling from an Attic Window:
3) Propnomicon:
4) The Steampunk Workshop:
5) The Digital Ambler:

Seven Things About Me

Here are seven things about me. You might not ever know any of these things about me if you just read the other posts on this blog.
1) My only pet is a leopard gecko named Texas.

2) I like H.P. Lovecraft. I discovered Lovecraft right before high school and have been reading his work off and on ever since.

3) I drink coffee. Not just a little coffee. I have gotten into the habit of drinking a pot at a time. I recently threw away my twelve-cup coffee maker and started using a single-cup pour over setup to slow down my consumption. I think it's working.

4) I play video games. I have about a dozen NES consoles to be refurbished and resold on eBay soon.
I am currently playing through Skylanders on the Wii. I know, "it's not a real Spyro game", but I like it and my daughter likes it. I guess that can be number 5...

5) I am a father. A single father. And I'm OK with that now.

6) I find ciphers and logic puzzles entertaining. When I was a kid I learned the pigpen cipher from my mom and then went on to learn more about ciphers and codes. About a year and a half ago I started playing sudoku to take my mind off of the real world (hint: thing #5) and that hooked me on logic puzzles.

7) My favorite food is hot dogs with Mexican cheese and taco sauce.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Elder Futhark Hexadecimal Multiplication Table

I have been playing again. Actually, I'm trying to decide on a consistent Runic number system for my personal use. I have not decided yet, but here's an Elder Futhark hexadecimal multiplication table just for the fun of it.

This was going to be part of a longer article on modern Runic number systems, but I don't know who my audience might be.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

HandWriting: Thursday, April 19, 2012

To the outside observer my life is falling apart and I must look like someone to feel sorry for at the current time. My life is not falling apart. It is dissolving. It is not an accident. Look closer. I am still smiling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hahalruna and Persian Khatt-i-Shajari

 I recently wrote about Hahalruna and El-Mushajjar, showing how the Arabic tree writing was a perfect port of Norse hahalruna (cipher runes) into Arabic writing. While writing that article I became aware of a very similar Persian cipher called Khatt-i-Shajari (Tree writing). Just as the Germanic people devised many variations based on the concept behind hahalruna (iisruna, lagoruna, etc), so too did the Persians. The Persian adaptations include smoke signals, hand signs, and tapping that sounds oddly like Morse code. I have read that the Celts used similar methods to communicate their Oghams. I see no reason to believe the Old Norse did not also communicate their runic ciphers in just as many creative forms. Even if they did not, perhaps modern Rune Masters should.

Although Sir Richard Burton and others mention this Persian code, the best description I have found is in A Year Amongst the Persians:
impressions as to the life, character, and thought of the people of Persia, received during twelve month's residence in that country in the years 1887-8. (Edward Granville Browne, published 1893) :

While I am on the subject of these linguistic curiosities, I may as well mention a method of secret communication sometimes employed in Persia, the nature and applications of which were explained to me by my Erivani friend a few days before his departure for Mashhad. Such of my readers as have studied Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hindustani will know that besides the ordinary arrangement of the letters of the Arabic alphabet there is another arrangement called the "abjad" (from the four letters alif, ba, ,jim, dal which begin it) representing a much older order. The order of the letters in the abjad is expressed by the following series of meaningless words, consisting of groups of three or four letters each supplied with vowel-points to render them pronounceable :—abjad, hawaz, hoti, kalaman, sa'fas, karashat, thakhadh (sakhaz) dhadhagha (zazagha). In this order each has a numerical value ; alif= 1, ba = 2, jim = 3, dal = 4, and so on up to ya = 10 ; then come the other tens, kaf= 20, lam=30, and so on up to kaf= 100; then the other hundreds up to gheyn=l000. The manner in which, by means of this abjad, words and sentences may be made to express dates is familiar to all students of these languages, and I will therefore only give as a specimen, for the benefit of the general reader, the rather ingenious chronogram for the death of the poet Jami, premising that he was a native of the province of Khurasan ; that "smoke" or "smoke of the heart" is a poetical term for sighs; and that to "come up from" in the case of a number means to be subtracted from.

This, then, is the chronogram: "Dud az Khurasdn bar amad," "Smoke (sighs) arose from Khurasan," or "dud (dal = 4, vav=6, dal = 4 ; total 14) came up (i.e. was subtracted) from Khurasan" (kha= 600, ra= 200, alif= 1, sin =60, alif= 1, nun = 50; total 912). Taking 14 from 912 we get the date of Jami's death, a.h. 898 (= a.d. 1492).

The method of secret communication above alluded to consists in indicating first the word of the abjad in which the letter to be spelt out occurs, then its position in that word. In communicating by raps, a double rap knocks off each word of the abjad, while on reaching the word in which the desired letter occurs its position in that word is indicated by the requisite number of single raps. An instance will make this clearer. It is desired to ask, "Nam-i-tu chist ?" (" What is thy name ?") : the letters which spell out this message are—niun, alif, mim, ta, vav, jim (for chim), ya, sin, ta. Nun is in the fourth word of the abjad, and is the fourth letter in that word (kalaman). It is therefore indicated by three double raps (removing or knocking off the three first words, abjad, hawaz, hoti, and thus bringing us to the next word, kalaman), followed by four single raps (showing that it is the fourth letter in this word). The remaining letters are expressed in similar fashion, so that if we represent double raps by dashes and single raps by dots, the whole message will run as follows: — — — • • • • (nun); (alif) ; — — — • • • (mim); — — — — — • • • • (ta)  • • (vav); • • • (chim or jim); — — • • • (ya); — — — — (sin); — — — — — • • • • (ta).

Messages can be similarly communicated by a person smoking the kalyan or water-pipe to his accomplice or partner, without the knowledge of the uninitiated. In this case a long pull at the pipe is substituted for the double rap, and a short pull for the single rap. Pulling the moustache, or stroking the neck, face, or collar (right side for words, left side for letters), is also resorted to to convert the system from an auditory into a visual one. It is expressed in writing in a similar fashion, each letter being represented by an upright stroke, with ascending branches on the right for the words and on the left for the letters. This writing is called, from the appearance of the letters, khatt-i-sarvi ("cypress-writing") or khatt-i-shajari ("tree-writing"). In this character (written, in the usual way, from right to left) the sentence which we took above ("nam-i-tu chist ?") will stand as follows :—

From the description given by Mr. Browne I was going to make a nice table with Persian letters and their khatt-i-shajari equivalents. The only problem is I did not know what letters to use. Sir Richard Burton gives us a version of the cipher (HERE):
As with the cipher preceding it in Burton's article, this cipher only has 22 letters. Of this Burton writes "it contains only the ancient and universal Semitic letters, lacking the last six of Arabic". Sir Burton then tells us the cipher I just showed you above "is applied to Pehlevi or old Persian". When I did a google search for Pehlevi and Old Persian I got about twenty different scripts and not knowing much about Old Persian, I didn't want to make a guess at which one might be correct. 
From the information supplied by Mr. Browne I see that the Arabic letter jim is used in place of the Persian letter chim. The other variant letters probably also use the Arabic letter they resemble. So, using the information supplied by Mr. Browne, I have retrofitted the old Arabic cipher given by Ibn Wahshiyah simply by removing one limb from the right of every tree in the El-Mushajjar cipher, thus:

As you can see, the Persian version of the cipher is a slightly more economical variation of Arabic tree writing.
Anyway, it seems I have gone another night without sleeping. If you have feedback or more information on any of the codes and cyphers I have written about, please let me know.

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Hahalruna and Persian Khatt-i-Shajari by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Elder Futhark Rune Dice

In October of last year an idea crossed my mind. I thought of making dice with the Runes of the Elder Futhark. Not the usual 6 sided dice, but three dies of eight sides. That's 3d8 for those of you who have played table top RPGs.

Each d8 represents an Aett of the Elder Futhark. Each die has 24 angles and represents the whole Rune row. Freyr's Aett has the Runes Fehu through Wunjo and the numeric values on the Runes on any two opposite side is 9. Hagal's Aett contains the Runes Hagalaz through Sowillo and the sum of opposite sides is 25. Tyr's Aett contains the Runes Tiwaz through Othala and the sum of opposite sides is 164. The sum of all Aetts is 300. The following table shows the pairs and sums:

Frey'rs Aett
Rune PairsFehu & WunjoUruz & GeboThurisaz & KenazAnsuz & Raidho
Numeric Value and Sum1 + 8 = 92 + 7 = 93 + 6 = 94 + 5 = 94 * 9 = 36

Hagal's Aett
Rune PairsHagalaz & SowilloNauthiz & ElhazIsa & PerthoJera & Ihwaz
Numeric Value and Sum9 + 16 =  2510 + 15 = 2511 + 14 = 2512 + 13 =254 * 25 = 100

Tyr's Aett
Rune PairsTiwaz & OthalaBerkano & DagazEhwaz & IngwazMannaz & Laguz
Numeric Value and Sum17 + 24 =  4118 + 23 = 4119 + 22 = 4120 + 21 = 414* 41 = 164

All 3 Aetts add to 300

I searched all round online and the first mention I found that sounded similar to my 3d8 was on Witch School. The post popped up in a google search and reads:
Does anyone use rune dice? I just purchased a set of futhark 3 dice which are 8 sided. They haven't arrived yet for UK, I live in the USA. So I am not sure how to read them. My intial thought is a 9 rune spread, with 3 rolls of the dice. I am very connected to Dragons and I expect my Dragon guides to give me push in the right direction. But was hoping this group might have some information.Brightest Blessing, Runestar 

So I joined the website just to ask about these Rune Dice. No answer yet.

I have been making the dice in paper and clay since October of last year. I would really love to make them of wood, but I have no idea how to go about that.

A couple of hours ago I found a patent in google patent search. It's the exact same layout as I have. I can't find them for sale anywhere, though. You can find it HERE.

Anyway, I have been making my dice from Premo Sculpey clay. I just knead them until they feel and look right, bake them and then sand them down and paint on the Runes with paint markers.

As you can see from the picture, I've worked everything out on paper first before marking the Runes on the clay dice. I made my dice extra large because I like the over-sized feel.

If you would like to see what the 3d8 Rune dice look like, print this out, cut and fold. I'm sure you can figure it out.

Of course, the first thing that one tries to work out is a system of divination, but I am now playing with concepts for true Rune Games. I'm working on unique dice notation and figuring out the probability distributions. Is there already a Beowulf RPG? I need to do more googling.

Creative Commons License
Elder Futhark Rune Dice by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Addenda: On further inspection, the patent does not match my dice in the Rune forms or in their pairings based on Runic Numbers.

7-2-2012: I just found these on Etsy. They also do not match my design, but they look cool. No, I don't know this person and I won't make any money if you buy from him (seems to matter to some people).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hahalruna and El-Mushajjar

On January 18th I googled Cipher Runes at 3 a.m. When I clicked the first result, I found that Wikipedia was blacked out for Americans to raise awareness of SOPA and PIPA.

So I decided to see what a public domain search at google books would turn up. The first search result was interesting, but when I got to Sir Richard Burton's Ultima Thule: or, a summer in Iceland, I paused. Sir Burton connects the Runic cipher to an Arabic cipher called "El-Mushajjar".

Soon I find an article Sir Burton wrote about "The Ogham-Runes and El-Mushajjar". In this article Sir Burton traces everything with a stick, branch, or stave back to Iran. The article is two parts genius and one part crackpot.

While reading related materials in google books I saw that later writers state that the Arabs based their El-Mushajjar cipher on the Norse cipher after coming into contact with Varangians. This explanation is simple and rational, but none of the sources put all the pieces together with simple diagrams in a step-by-step fashion.

So, that's what you're about to see...

Rune Ciphers
The first to use this cipher were the Germanic tribes. The marks were used to refer to Runes. The Runes were separated into three groups of eight Runes. These groups were called Aettir meaning "eights". The sense of the word Aett is "group" or "family". The first group or family of Runes is called Freyr's Aett after the god Freyr. Frey'r's name starts with the first Rune of the Aett, Fehu (F). The other Aetts are called Hagal's Aett and Tyr's Aett and start with Hagalaz (H) and Tyr (T) respectively.

The oldest explanation of the system as it is applied to Runes that I can find is that of Saint Gallen in the second half of the 9th century. In the Alcuin manuscript we see several types of the same cipher.

The first two types of cipher Runes described by Saint Gallen are called "iisruna" and "lagoruna". These are the Runes Isa and Laguz. In Saint Gallen's manuscript, the short Runes represent the Aettir. One short Isa or Laguz represents the first Aett, Freyr's Aett. Two short Runes represent Hagal's Aett. Three short Runes represent Tyr's Aett. Directly after the short Runes are taller Runes. The number of taller Runes tells you the index of the Rune.

The third type of cipher Rune described by Saint Gallen is called "hahalruna" and is based on the same pattern as the others. We make a vertical line. To the left of this line we make one, two, or three marks based on which Aett the Rune is in. Then we make a number of marks to the right of the center line equal to the Rune's index. If you slant the lines upward you get the forms you see in my table above. No matter which way the lines point, they mark either the Aett or index. Sometimes you see the lines facing upward on one side of the stave and downward on the other side.

The fourth type of Runic cipher described by Saint Gallen is called "soofruna". It's the same as the others, but with dots.

In all four examples, Saint Gallen has written the name CORVI.

 As times went on, the Runes underwent some changes and were reduced in number to sixteen. The following table shows how the old cipher was applied to the Younger Futhark.

I could not find a good free Younger Futhark font, so I just wrote it out quickly on graph paper. I attempted to copy the rune forms found in Johan Gustaf Liljegren's Run-Lara.

As you can see, tree runes were used by the Norsemen before they journeyed into Arab lands and were still used in the Viking age.

It was the opinion of Sir Richard Burton that the tree runes were an Arab invention that was borrowed by Varangians and adapted to use with their own runes. Why it did not occur to him that the transmission was from northern runes to Arabic is uncertain.

The oldest Arabic manuscript I could find that contains the cipher called El-Mushajjar is that of Ibn Wahshiyya (9th century):
The Arabic reads:
The alphabet of Dioscorides the philosopher, commonly called the Tree alphabet. He wrote on trees, shrubs, and herbs, and of their secret, useful, and noxious qualities in this alphabet, used since in their books by different philosophers.

Sir Richard Burton suggests that it was an Arabic translation of a work by Dioscorides that was written in this cipher and then attributed to Dioscorides. Let it be written down that I officially agree with Sir Burton about this one issue.

In his article in "Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom", Sir Burton gives the following form of the cipher:
Here Sir Burton mentions El-Abjad, but does not give much in way of explanation as to what that means.

The Arabic alphabet was originally arranged in a different order than you see it today. The letters, like the letters of so many other alphabets were also used as numbers. The change to Arabic numerals (which the Arabs call Indian numerals ;) had already occurred by the time Ibn Wahshiyya recorded the cipher. This can be seen by looking at many of the other ciphers in Ibn Wahshiyya's work. This leads me to believe that the ciphers recorded in Abjad sequence were already in use by Arabs before the new letter sequence arose and those with the new sequence were developed closer to the time Ibn Wahshiyya recorded them.

Of this system Idries Shah (The Sufis, 1964) writes:
While the Arabic letters have equivalents up to one thousand, the Hebrew alphabet has equivalents only up to four hundred, inclusive. For mnemonic purposes this arrangement of letters is always memorized as follows, as a string of meaningless words, adding diacritical points to make pronunciation possible:

In Persian, Urdu and other non-Semitic languages, the letters are given slightly different sounds in some cases, but this does not affect the use of the letters, whose numerical values remain constant.

Date names, dates of birth or death, words expressing the character or aspirations of a person, all are often evolved from the scheme. Ignorant repetition of the meaningless words has in some places endowed the barbarous Abjad "words" with spurious baraka, the belief in special inherent functions, but this belongs to the realm of repetitious magical procedures and is not important.

It is at this point I would like to point something out. The Abjad system is based on number. So was the Elder Futhark. When viewed as a base-8 tally system, Hahalruna not only have a one to one relationship with the position of the Runes of the Elder Futhark within the three Aetts, but also give the numeric values of the Runes. This is not true for the Younger Futhark or Abjad adaptations. It is still a fine cipher system no matter what alphabet it refers to.

Here is a little table I made up showing the way in which the cipher was applied to Arabic:
The first Abjad "word" has one branch to the right, and the letter's index is indicated by the number of branches to the left. This reflects the right-to-left reading direction of Arabic.

So, yeah, this is what I did when Wikipedia went down for a day. What would I do if the internet kill switch were used?

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Hahalruna and El-Mushajjar by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

5:08 A.M.
Tuesday, 3/13/2012
I was up all night reading the internet again and just came across this text at Princeton:
it's a text titled "Treatise on ancient, alchemical and magical alphabets"
I managed to find El-Mushajjar written in the left margin on this page:

As marginalia goes, it looks pretty clumsy. Notice the modern letter order written underneath the cipher and then crossed out. The Abjad order is written above.

Monday, 7/30/2012
Take a look at this 18th century manuscript:
 In the upper right we see what looks like our El-Mushajjar cipher. But count the branches. If we translate the branches into numbers we get the following:

1:10 , 3:9 , 2:9 , 1:9 , 3:8 , 2:8 , 2(3):8 , 3:7

The second character, reading from the right is smudged and looks to me like the transcriber originally had 3:8 , but scraped away parchment to make it 2:8. As you can tell by comparing the tree runes in this manuscript with those in my table above, there's something different. Whereas there are only eight abjad words, the final tree rune implies at least ten.

The solution to this problem is simple. The 18th century version of this cipher makes its divisions based on the hijā’ī order of modern Arabic.

More on coded Runes:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rune Time: Making A Modern Runic Clock

I have been watching the clock a lot lately. This and the beginning of 2012 with all the talk of the Mayan calendar, Templar astrology, and the end of time... All of that has got me thinking about the runes and time. How did the Old Norse or Anglo-Saxons think of time? And how might the runes relate to the passing of time? Not too long ago I did quite a lot of reading about the astrolabe. This lead to reading about the related topic of sundials as well (inquiring minds want to know). I remembered reading about a curious sundial in England. On page 57 of The Book of Sun-Dials by H. K. F. Eden, there is a description of a dial at Aldbrough Church in England.

It is circular, about 15½ inches in diameter, and divided into eight equal parts, with a central hole for the style. In one of the spaces there is a rather elaborate fylfot. The inscription is on the outer circle, and runs thus:

[Ulf bade a rear church for poor (or "for himself,") and for Gunwara (her) soul.]
. . . The inscription is a curious example of a mixed dialect, old English and Scandinavian.
. . . There is another point worth noting. Anglo-Saxon dials are usually semicircular, this one is completely circular, and exactly resembles those sun-wheels which have been found on stones and relics of the bronze age in Denmark, Ireland, and other parts of Europe, and which are considered to be sun symbols of great antiquity. On the same dial stone we find the fylfot, an Aryan emblem, representing, says Count Goblet d'Alviella, "the sun in its apparent course, the branches being rays in motion." We shall see as we go on that these little wheel dials are frequently found on churches of much later date than Aldbrough. The equal division of the circle into eight parts, though it should indicate the eight tides of the Norsemen, is a useless one for a sun-dial, where the night hours are not needed."

(Here's a University of Pennsylvania web page with pictures and more about the inscription on the dial: )

On reading this again I grew curious as to what these "eight tides of the Norsemen" could be. After a few google searches and quite a bit of reading I had my answer. There is actually quite a lot of information about this subject, but the most accessible is this article at Harvard:

The Norse divided the horizon into eight (Aett) equal parts. The eight divisions were measured by the sun's movement. At eight different points of the horizon the Norse would assign a marker for each of the eight important times of day.

The first and most important daymark is the midday mark. This is the time of day that the sun is at its highest. If you face the sun at this time of day, you are facing south. We now call this time "noon". This point stays the same every day throughout the year. This is the warmest time of day.

Midnight is directly opposite midday or noon. This is north.

On each equinox, the point the sun rises is the rise measure. It is roughly east.

Opposite the rise measure is the Mid-Evening measure in the West.

Day-Measure, Night-Measure, Undorn, and Otta
In the spaces between the four marks already described are four more marks. All together these marks divide the plane of the horizon into eight equal parts. The other four day marks are called Undorn, Night-Measure, Otta, and Day-Measure and are situated as in this illustration

The Names of the Day Tides
The names of the day tides varied from time to place. In one place the tides may be called noontide, undorne, eventide, nighttide, uht (otta), morning, and undernoon. Anglo-Saxons called these times of day tíd (from whence we get the word tide) and named them middaeg, gelotendaeg, aefen, niht, midniht, úht, morgen, and undern.

Old Anglo-Saxon sundials in England are divided into four equal sections representing the four tides within daylight. They maintained the four other tides, but as Mr. Eden points out, the night hours are not needed for a sundial (in England, at least).

Oh, I just had a great idea. Let's take Ulf's sundial back home. No, really, grab it and follow me. We had better start moving now, we only have a few months to get there. . .

Good, You made it! Just in time too. Today is the summer solstice in Scandinavia. The locals tell me it is noon. Set down Ulf's sundial, place the stylus in the hole and align the sundial so the shadow points due north. That's right, when you are looking down on a sundial, the divisions are reversed. The north division is midday, not midnight. Keep that in mind as you watch the shadow on the dial for the next few hours. . .

. . . Oh, you're still here? That's great. What time is it? You look confused. Where is the shadow? Yeah, the shadow really is due south and it really is midnight!

When Mr. Eden wrote, "The equal division of the circle into eight parts, though it should indicate the eight tides of the Norsemen, is a useless one for a sun-dial, where the night hours are not needed." Well, he did not take into account where Ulf came from. It seems that summer in these parts doesn't include many sunsets. If you come back in winter you may find you can still read the dial after sunset. Even with the sun below the horizon, the light will often be enough to cast a shadow on the dial. Ulf isn't looking so silly now is he?

But I'm not Scandinavian and I don't use sundials. I want a system of time keeping that feels authentic and modern and makes sense in MY world. I want a system that reminds me of the runes and daytides and can still get me to work on time.

These days most of the world uses clocks and watches that measure time the same way. One day is 24 hours. One hour is 60 minutes. Every day is measured the same no matter what the sun is doing. Some clocks count the hours from 1 to 12 and we make the distinction of A.M. or P.M. Other clocks count all 24 hours of a day. If there were only a way of marking these times with runes. I mean, every clock, watch, phone, computer widget, and bank sign uses Arabic or Roman numerals, but how in the world could we mark those times with runes?

Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic all used the same characters to write their words as they used to write their numbers. So, it should come as no surprise that the runes of the Elder Futhark also have numerical values.

The runes and their values are as follows:

The runes have values of 1 to 24. Since there are 24 hours in a day, this means we can assign one rune to each hour of the day. Ideally we would make 24 equal divisions, each with a rune, on a clock face and have the clock run at half speed. Since I have only seen one clock that runs at half speed, we will need to make a new face for a standard 12 hour clock. Modeling my clock after a military clock, here is my design:

As you can see, I have placed the runes where their Roman or Arabic numeral equivalents would normally go. The Old Norse would probably rotate this clock one position to the left so the count starts nearer the noon daymark, but no matter how you hang the clock, I suggest you set it so you will not be late for work or school. If you do not know how to use a 24 hour clock, you can ignore the runes in the center ring.

This arrangement places three runes in each day tide. In noontide we have Isa, Jera, and Ihwaz. If we turn the clock one position to the left noontide contains the runes Jera, Fehu, and Perthro. The following table shows which runic hours are in each of the daytides.

Jera at Midday Mark
Isa, Jera, IhwazPerthro, Elhaz, SowiloTiwaz, Berkana, EhwazMannaz, Laguz, IngwazDagaz, Othala, FehuUruz, Thurisaz, AnsuzRaidho, Kenaz, GeboWunyo, Hagalaz, Nauthiz
Fehu at Midday Mark
Jera, Fehu, PerthroElhaz, Sowilo, TiwazBerkana, Ehwaz, MannazLaguz, Ingwaz, DagazOthala, Fehu, UruzThurisaz, Ansuz, RaidhoKenaz, Gebo, WunyoHagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa

If I were more crafty with a compass and brush, I would buy a clock from the store and modify it. But I am not that crafty and do not want to spend money just so I can ruin a clock. So, in order to fill the spot on the wall above the table where I start fires with my poor soldering skills, I have uploaded my modern runic clock design to

I would like to hear your feedback on any part of this article. If I made a mistake in describing the eight tides or daymarks or if you have a suggestion for a better clock design, please let me know.

As a side note: The positions of the daymarks requires the observation of the sun over the course of an entire year. The sun is highest above the midday mark on midsummer. Likewise, the other seven dividing marks land on the solstices, equinoxes, and so-called cross-quarter days. I find the Wikipedia page on the Wheel of the Year needs serious revision.

Creative Commons License
Rune Time: Making A Modern Runic Clock by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

It has come to my attention that my work above may be similar to ideas in Nigel Pennick's "Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition". I have not read this book, but it is now on my wish list.