Mystery Clockwork Angels Rune Deciphered: It’s Winter
In early May I posted an interpretation of the 12 runes featured on Rush’s Clockwork Angels album, but I was uncertain about the meaning of the rune associated with “The Anarchist,” or number 4 on the album clock face. I think I know what it is now, though. It’s the symbol for winter.
At first I thought it was the symbol for wine, which is typically depicted as a round decanter enclosing a group of dots. It’s not uncommon for the same rune to depicted in many different ways, depending on the period and the culture in which it’s used. So I assumed the rectangular decanter was just another way to depict the rune. But wine didn’t fit with “The Anarchist.” So I went back to my trusty guide, called the Dictionary of Occult, Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils, by Fred Gettings, and after more careful searching I found what I was looking for.
Here it is:
Thematically, since the rune is associated with “The Alchemist,” winter would certainly make sense, on a number of levels. First, it recalls Shakespeare’s “winter of discontent” in Richard III, which defines the alchemist quite well, since the alchemist is motivated by discontent in the extreme. In the lyrics of the piece, he speaks of his envy and how he never got his fair share. Sounds like discontent to me.
But winter also represents a change of season for the main character in Clockwork Angels. He gets to the city and is dazzled by it, lands a job as a carnival worker and everything is going well for him. But then he confronts the anarchist, who throws his bomb detonator at him. The protagonist catches it just at the moment everyone turns to look at him. He’s caught with the detonator in his hand and is falsely thought to be an anarchist bent on destroying everything. So, he takes flight and ends up on the frontier of civilization: the seven cities of gold, which ends up being covered in a “Sahara of snow.” In other words, in the arc of his journey, winter has descended.
So, it seems pretty clear the rune at 4 o’clock on the Clockwork Angels clock face is winter.—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault