Yet more Tangle Saxon Runes

The series continues! Here are parts one and two.

6. ᚳ [k] or [tʃ] Cen, “Torch”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Cen"
Tangle-Saxon Rune “Cen”

The Cen (probably pronounced like “cane” or possibly “chain”) rune represents the “hard” c sound [k] or the “ch” sound [tʃ]. So my “rule” for the “c” rune was that I could use tangles starting with “k,” “ch,” or “c,” but not soft c. The tangles here include

  • Cadent, a workhorse tangle that’s easy to draw, filled in Knightsbridge-style (see below)
  • Chainging
  • Chechain
  • Kandy Ribnz
  • Keeko, always a good filler
  • Knightsbridge — what’s that you say? Shouldn’t that go with “n”? Not at all, since all consonants were pronounced in Old English. The word “knight” in Old English was “cniht,” (“k” was not used in the Old English alphabet) with every letter pronounced, including the “h” which was something like the “softer” German “ch” of “ich” or “Bach.” Really, I think it was a mistake to make it silent. We should start a movement to revert to saying “k-now” and “k-nit” and so on. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have Cadent transition into Knightsbridge — and it was!
  • Kollide, the center column which came out quite different from the step-out but I really like how it ended up, all nautilus-like.
  • Kozy, which didn’t really come out the way I wanted it to
  • And whatever that diagonal ribbon is on the right. Maybe Cloudfall?

7. X [g] Gyfu or Giefu, “Gift”

Tangle-Saxon Runes "Giefu"

“G” in Old English was typically pronounced as either the hard “G” of “gift” or the consonantal “y” sound of “you.” In the middle of words, it was apparently pronounced [ɣ], a “voiced velar fricative” i.e. a sound I’m glad that I’m not called upon to reproduce very often. Since we are well-stocked with “G” tangles, I decided to stick with that:

  • Girdy, one of the simplest 3d-effects tangles I think
  • Girlande
  • Gneiss, one of my absolute favorite tangles, probably because I distinctly remember doodling stars like that in my Middle School Notebooks. Man, if I’d had Zentangle then… Anyway, there are 7 Gneisses hanging around in this tangle. Oh, and before you ask, “G” was pronounced before “n” at the beginning of a word in Old English.
  • Golven, which makes a great column
  • Gotcha, one that baffled me the first few times I tried it but has a nice, bold look when done right
  • Gothic, which didn’t come out the way I wanted and I couldn’t really salvage in a way that pleased me, but that’s life.
  • Gottago, another tangle I instantly fell in love with once I realized how absurdly simple it was. There are a lot of these where the little picture you see on looks just incredibly intricate and I think, I could never do that. Gottago was definitely one of those. To give myself more of a challenge, I laid out a wobbly grid. It was a bit of a headache trying to place all those corner things, but I think it was worth it.
  • Gordgeous, which I like only the necks look way too big to me.
  • Groovy

8. ᚹ [w] wynn, “joy”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Wynn"

The letter “w” did not exist in the Latin alphabet — they used “v” or “u” which were really just variants of each other. The letter that is transcribed as “w” in modern editions of Old English texts is actually based on this rune. The silent “w” that sometimes occurs in combination with “r” was pronounced in Old English, and many of these words (wrath, writhe, wraith, write, wright, etc.) have come down to Modern English with few changes other than the loss of that “wr” sound which is just really difficult to pronounce. The similarly challenging “wl” cluster has, so far as I can tell, disappeared entirely. The tangles I chose are

  • Joy, which, okay, is a little on the nose, but I just had to
  • W2
  • Waax, which I still don’t feel like I’ve really gotten down
  • Wedge, which really deserves more space than I gave it here
  • Wheelz, another one of those impossible-looking but really simple ones
  • Win-Zeta, another one that should have had more room to grow
  • Wisket, which ended up being more like a variation on W2 the way I did it here
  • Woodlock
  • Worms, which is great fun
  • Wud, which I’m definitely falling in love with

9. ᚻ [h] Hægl “hail”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Haegl"

That’s “hail” as in the precipitation. The Anglo-Saxons were quite familiar with this, calling it “corna caldast,” or “the coldest of grains” which sounds really cool in Old English but substantially less so when translated. Fun fact, when I started this tangle, I was actually experiencing a bit of the hail from the storms that hit my area pretty hard on Tuesday. The tangles:

  • Harfe
  • Hepmee, a very silly tangle that I quite enjoy. I happen to like spiders and consider them good company. The irrational fear of spiders you encounter everywhere is no doubt promulgated by BIG INSECTICIDE or something.
  • Hibred, which I think was one of the first tangles I attempted
  • Hollinbaugh, which ended up being incredibly frustrating on this one. I added the stripes and stuff to the strings so that I could keep up with which one was going where behind the Harfe
  • Hua
  • Huggins, transitioning nicely into
  • Huggy Bear

10. ᚾ [n] Nyd, “need”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Nyd"

The letter N, which even I can’t think of much to say about. The tangles:

  • ‘Nzeppel
  • Narwal, another great one for having fun with
  • Natti
  • Nipa
  • Nvelope

11. ᛁ [i] is, “ice”

Tangle-Saxon Runes "Is"

“Is” is pronounced “EES,” basically “ice” but with a long-e sound. In fact, long “i” was pronounced with that long-e sound until the beginning of some serious nonsense called the Great Vowel Shift, when people in England en masse decided to start pronouncing all the long vowels all wrong. Well, maybe it was a bit more complicated than that. Anyway, I took the easy route and just went with “I” tangles.

  • Intwine, another one I’ve just totally fallen in love with.
  • Itsy Twisty, which takes just an enormous amount of concentration but it’s worth it
  • Ix
  • Ixorius, and I did the aura-ing on this different from what the step-out shows; I like how it looks
  • Phroze, because, you know, ice.

To be continued…



3 thoughts on “Yet more Tangle Saxon Runes

  1. Oh my daughter would love this saxon rune series. She and her husband are teaching themselves Gaelic, and have learned much of the alphabet that goes with the ancient old sounds. Not sure if Gaelic and Saxon have the same alphabet, but still, this is right down her alley. I especially like the haegl, the hepmee comments…I’m a spider lover, too and find that tangle charming…

    and since H is the first letter of my name, I’ve always liked it the best. I love that the sound it makes is completely air. There is no stop anywhere in the sound /h/ just a breath. Interesting blog. Now off to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The Runic alphabet was primarily used for Germanic languages, particularly for Old Norse. Old Irish had its own set of runes, called Ogham that would probably also be fascinating to tangle.


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