The Stillness of Christmas

Christmas Eve Is Here

How did Christmas get here so fast? It seems like only yesterday we were cleaning up after a Thanksgiving feast. Another week or two to get ready for Christmas would definitely be welcomed.

But ready or not, here it is, and now it’s an opportunity to practice being in the moment. Forget what the mind says about time, if we have enough or what the future holds. Here we are, in this very moment.

It’s time to turn our focus to the symbolism of the birth of a holy light. A light of the world that guides us to a greater light within us.

The Stillness of Christmas

Christmas mass is attended and many celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We also welcome the arrival of Santa Claus and presents are placed under the Christmas tree. Others nurture in their hearts the winter solstice and the growing light. Shops close early, people tuck into their homes.

Christmas is a time of stillness over much of the planet. A brief, still moment settles around us. It’s a cherished moment in contrast to the chaotic cacophony and frenetic activity of this world. Let that shared stillness enter your heart and wrap around your shoulders like a warm blanket.

As a student of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®), you can apply TRT® hands-on, especially in your heart to expand more light within you. Connect with the stillness inside of you. As a student of The Second Degree of The Radiance Technique®, you can tap into the stillness around the planet and direct radiant energy to expand on peace and goodwill.

May your Christmas be bright.

Christmas Songs And Mary

Mary And The Birth Of Jesus

What are all our Christmas songs about? We touched upon vernacular and religious songs of the season in another blog post Christmas Songs Across Time.

Christianity brings us the spirit of Christmas. It's the story of the birth of a child, the manifestation of spirit into mortal flesh. This birth of light is embodied through a mere mortal woman, Mary.

Artwork by Jason Jenicke

Mary's Song

What do our Christmas carols tell us about Mary, the earthly Mother of Jesus?

Come to find out, not much. Christmas songs across the years celebrate the birth of Jesus, but there are not many that sing the story from Mary's viewpoint.

In Michael Linton's article on this topic called Looking for Mary in Christmas Carolshe describes with charming humor:

Both the “First Noel” and “Angels from the Realms of Glory” are remarkable for Mary’s invisibility.

In the nine verses of “Noel,” we have the economic condition of the shepherds (poor), the weather report (cold), the star (bright), the homeland of the wise men (far away), their mental condition (assured), the gifts (you know the list), the local livestock (ox and ass), the nature of divine creation (of naught), and, in a verse mercifully found in no hymnal, the doctrine of salvation through good works...

...there’s not even a hint of Mary. She’s simply not there.
— Michael Linton

As for Mary's lack of visibility, Linton offers this theory:

Our carols are primarily nineteenth and early twentieth-century Protestant inventions (although the tune dates from the Renaissance, the medieval-sounding text ‘What Child Is This’ was written in 1865), not a time that’s known for its deep Roman Catholic, Protestant cooperation and mutual affection.

Mary can’t be excised from the Christmas story completely, but in the carols she’s mentioned as little as possible, for fear of turning her into an object of cultic devotion, something most Protestants have accused Roman Catholics of doing for a fairly long time.

So Mary merits only passing mention in a few carols or, even better, no mention at all in most.
— Michael Linton

Today, there are a few songs that view the miracle of the birth of Jesus through Mary's eyes:

Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) – by Amy Grant

Mary's hesitant questioning speaks to her human frailty. You can almost sense the trembling of her hand as she embarks on this journey. Her doubts give voice to her concerns that she will live up to the task before her.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
must I walk this path alone?
Breath of Heaven, hold me together. Be forever near me.
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness.

For The First Time – by Jason Bare

With his voice and music, Jason Bare paints a scene so we can envision when Mary and Joseph look upon their son, this birth of light, and hear his cries for the very first time.

In a world so dark, heaven and earth would collide and would change who they are.
Could this be the same voice that brought us to life?
Unbelievable, the promise is this little child.
What a miracle.
The world has seen the Light for the first time.

Mary, Did You Know? – by Clay Aiken

As Mary held her baby boy for the first time, could she have possibly guessed the future that was about to unfurl in front of him? Clay Aiken wonders out loud if Mary could have known the remarkable destiny of her child and his greater purpose. 

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

Mary And The Radiant Child

The artwork by Sulamith Wulfing entitled Frohe Weihnachten portrays the radiant child of light held in Mary's heart center.

The symbology is there for all of us to appreciate. It's the awakened child within our hearts, the birth of light into the darkness of this outer existence.

For any Christmas music, students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can bring a song's imagery to their meditations with use of TRT® hands-on. Accessing universal energy with TRT® lets you explore the deeper meaning behind the notes and the words.

What child is this who is awake? Awake in consciousness, even at our birth. 


(The Radiance Technique® is not associated with any religion or belief system.
Please see Radiant Nursing – About for more details.)


O Holy Night

It's Christmas Eve

A hush falls across the land as we gather for Christmas Eve.

We finish our Christmas shopping and gather with family and friends. We light candles and offer prayers. Midnight mass is chanted in churches large and small.

We spiral into Christmas Eve on stars of light.

A Star In The East

And for a moment, the sky stood still while a new star was born.

Suspended in the firmament, a powerful star sparkled and beckoned. Wise men followed the light. It's possible that an alignment of the stars is what drew the astrologers as far back as... 

April 17, 6 BC when the Sun, Jupiter, the Moon and Saturn aligned in the constellation Aries while Venus and Mars were in neighboring constellations.

The star could have appeared up to two years before the wise men arrived in Jerusalem.

Grant Mathews, a Notre Dame astrophysicist, believes the wise men were "Zoroastrian astrologers who would have recognized the planetary alignment in Aires as a sign a powerful leader was born."

In fact, it would have even meant that this leader was destined to die at an appointed time, which of course would have been significant for the Christ child, and may have been why they brought myrrh, which was an embalming fluid.

Saturn there (in that part of the sky) would have made whoever was born as a leader, a most powerful leader, because Saturn had the strength to do it, in their view.
— Grant Mathews

Christmas Is In Our Hearts

Perhaps you spend Christmas with a large, noisy family or maybe your Christmas night is at home with a beloved pet. If you have studied The Radiance Technique® (TRT®), allow yourself some extra time for TRT® hands-on

Amidst all the gatherings and activities, the light burns bright and we can tap into that expanding light in our meditations. Hold yourself close to the light.

Remember that Christmas exists in our hearts.

Today we are all wise men when we follow the light in our own hearts.


Little Holiday Videos

A Quick Peek Into The Season

Christmas baking and decorations make this holiday season a busy one. There's little time for writing, however, here are a couple of videos taken with our iPhone.

Going To The Tree Farm

Traveling to a Christmas tree farm in Woodland, California this year, we picked out our tree. You can cut down your own if you're feeling like an ambitious woodsman. Pre-cut trees are kept fresh in buckets of water. The workers will take off an inch from the trunk for those of us who don't own a saw. 

One of our favorite Christmas tree species is the Noble Fir. After picking out a humble 6-foot tree, we took the tag to the workers and requested shaking and netting. Shaking it removes loose needles and dirt and a net can help get it home.

A sense of humor is needed when the farm is crowded with holiday shoppers. Tree farm personnel demonstrated their funny-bone with the bottom line of this sign for the tree nets. Just kidding, of course!

Dramatic Winter Skies

Winter skies like to dance at this time of year and I captured some traveling clouds with the time-lapse feature on my smartphone. Music was then needed. The song I Wonder as I Wander evokes seasonal skies and is sung with layers of harmony by The King's Singers.

I had to giggle when I noted that I wandered in my neighborhood and I wondered if there were more Christmas decorations than usual, or had I not noticed them before? I included their photos in the video to connect with the song's lyrics.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
To save lowly people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Jesus was born it was in a cow’s stall
With shepherds and wise men and angels and all
The blessings of Christmas from heaven did fall
And the weary world woke to the Savior’s call.

Bring Light To Your Creativity

For students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®), you can bring light to your creative endeavors with TRT® hands-on. Focus on Head Position #4 and Front Position #4 to support your expression in light. 

Let yourself relax into your heart. It's okay if it's not a professional production. The joy is in the process of creating.

With so many professional examples around us, it can be intimidating to pursue our own creative attempts. Remember when it was simply fun to create and we didn't worry about the outcome?

May your holidays be filled with wonder as you wander and may the new year be a source of joyful discovery.


Wassailing, Old Tradition Made New

Wassailing – Traditions Then And Now

What a busy time of year. Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yuletide, St. Nicolas, Santa Claus, Wassailing...

Hold on a quick New York second. Wassailing? That goofy word that no one knows how to pronounce; that's in an obscure Christmas carol that no one sings, because no one knows what it is?

Yes. That's the one.

Wassailing – Wassail.

The wonder of languages. The words "Wassailing – Wassail" are inspiring. Who amongst us gets the chance to say "wassail" often enough?

For the delight of a linguistics person, wassail is a noun, a verb, and even a salutation. It doesn't get better than that.

Wordsmith has this to share:



MEANING: Verb transitive: To toast.
Verb intransitive: To go from house to house singing carols at Christmas.
Noun:  1. A toast to someone's health.
2. A festivity with much drinking.
3. A drink for toasting, especially spiced ale.
4. The singing of Christmas carols going from house to house.

ETYMOLOGY: The word Wassail is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon toast Wæs þu hæl – or "be thou hale" (healthy). Earliest documented use: 1275. The Anglo-Saxon derived from Old Norse ves heill – or "be well" in which case, wassailing likely predates the Norman conquest in 1066.

It was a Saxon custom that, at the start of each year, the lord of the manor would shout "waes hael." The assembled crowd would reply "drinc hael" - meaning "drink and be healthy." 

What Is Wassailing?

Wassailing has been associated with both Christmas and New Year's celebrations. It was a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends. It was also an ancient ceremony that involved singing and drinking to the health of trees.

Wikipedia informs us:

The tradition of wassailing falls into two distinct categories: The House-Visiting wassail and the Orchard-Visiting wassail. The House-Visiting wassail, caroling by another name, is the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas carols.

The Orchard-Visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.
Steeped in history, wassailing is traditionally held on the Twelfth Night after Christmas and performed in orchards to awaken the apple trees from their winter slumber and ward off bad spirits.

Trees are precious and they deserve some much-needed recognition. We are more than happy to gather 'round and dance and toast to their health.

It also shows how we used to be more connected to nature and cognizant of our foods and from whence they came. Somehow going into the supermarket and singing to the produce aisles to ensure full shelves for next year doesn’t have the same appeal.

The Beverley Guardian tells us in their article Days Lengthen, Cold Strengthens:

Wassailing used to be carried out throughout England with other trees such as pear, plum, or cobnut. Cows and oxen used to be wassailed too for the same reason, to bring luck and encourage good health in the coming year.

Wassailing may have continued for some die-hards in our beloved merry ol' England, but for the rest of us across the pond, it didn't get much press. Until now.

Wassailing is making a comeback. More and more, people are including a wassail drink or a wassailing festival for the trees in their celebrations.

A Wassailing Song

The Wassail Song of today is a traditional English Christmas carol.

For our musicians: the verses are in 6/8 time which bounces us along; then the chorus steps in, as smooth as glass, when it switches to 2/2 time. This contrast provides captivating musical interest.

The image above is an example of the printed sheet music.

In 1902 Elder and Shepard published a series of six Christmas carols on single sheets (one of them, The Wassail Song, pictured above). The artwork is by Harold M. Sichel, who was one of Elder’s favorite art contributors.

Of particular interest in the printing is the choice of font that uses the sharp S for the double "ss" as well as the older "s." The scharfes S "ß" (sharp S) is commonly used in German, however, it's also possible to see a long-s short-s ligature (ß) in English texts from the 15th and 16th centuries. Here, it makes for a nice antique effect.

Here We Come A-Wassailing

For an intricate version of the song with rich harmonies, we have The King's Singers from their album, A Little Christmas Music. Be sure to take a listen.

Bring TRT® To Your Festivities

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can use this supportive technique with all their traditions and holiday activities. Use of TRT® hands-on while participating in events brings greater Light to your celebrations and expands the qualities of loving.

You can use TRT® hands-on while studying history. It helps provide a sense of the deeper energies of those times. Discover more about how you can consciously integrate the universal energy of TRT® into your study of history in an expansion class with an Authorized Instructor of TRT®.

The Wassail Drink

To have a proper Wassail event, you need to have a Wassail drink.

In days of yore, you'd find an ale-based drink flavored with spices and honey. 

Ancient Wassail also had cream and egg whites beaten into it, making for a curdling or frothing that looked like the white wool of a lamb. Hence, it also came to be known as Lambswool – a mixture of hot ale, spices, sugar, breadcrumbs and roasted apples into which beaten eggs and cream were stirred.

To our ancestors, Lambswool was quite delectable. It could be argued it is the grandfather of our modern eggnog.

Today, however, our modern tastebuds tend not to favor warm beer. And your guests may start packing to leave if you serve them a curdled drink.

Wassail Drink Recipes

A plethora of Wassail recipe choices await you on the internet. You can find Wassails that are non-alcoholic, spiked, some that more closely resemble mulled wine than Wassail and others that stay true to the apple cider base.

Here is one recipe with warmed beer, Traditional Wassail Recipe, and another Wassail recipe that includes the eggs.

Yet another Wassail brew has Calvados as an ingredient. A specialty from Normandy, France, Calvados is an authentic apple brandy.

If you can't find Calvados, you could substitute any quality brandy. In truth, tossing an expensive Calvados in a mixture of several juices is a bit extravagant; you may wish to reserve it for more purist libations.

The Wassail Bowl. by John Gilbert, 1860.

Make Wassailing a Part of Your Traditions

The nice thing about Wassail is that it's not emphatically tied down to a specific date or even whether it is Christmas or New Year's – whichever timing works for you.

Or why not plan for both timings – Christmas for the caroling and January as a pick-me-up after the rush of the holidays? January is a nice time to sing to the trees.

Turn the old tradition of Wassailing into a new one for your family and friends. We should hear a lot more Waes hael and Drinc hael being shouted out around us.

A tradition has to start somewhere, and like they say, there's no time like the present.

Waes Hael – Good Health !


Christmas Songs Across Time

Dust Off Your Christmas Songs

The month of December is here and that means uninhibited, unabashedly repetitive, guilt-free playing of Christmas songs.

Allow me to address the guilt-free part. Naturally, we can play Christmas songs at any time of the year. There are no laws on the books saying we can't.

But, honestly, don't you feel just a little out of sorts when you play them in the blazing heat of July? Sweltering under 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I only need a few notes of Frosty the Snowman to picture him in a giant puddle. Not the effect I really wanted.

For our holidays in December, Christmas songs are ubiquitous. They point the way to joyful celebrations with family and friends as well as the intimate journey on the path of inner light.

A Wide Variety Of Christmas Songs

We have Christmas songs to suit every taste. From traditional to modern, from serious contemplation to light-hearted frolicking.

Time-honored traditional songs:

  • Silent Night

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing

  • O Holy Night...

  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel...

Classical songs:

  • The Nutcracker Suite

  • The Messiah...

Venacular songs:

  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

  • Jingle Bells

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

Raucous songs:

  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)

  • Fairytale of New York...

The boys of the NYPD Choir were singing Galway Bay and the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day.
— The Pogues

Wistful songs:

  • Merry Christmas, Darling

  • I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)...

The fluid, lyrical voice of Karen Carpenter as she sings Merry Christmas, Darling is like warm butterscotch coating your ice cream.

Christmas songs are timeless. It's okay to dust off the Carpenters from 1970. No apologies needed. It's the time of year when songs from the past are like a badge of honor in a world of nostalgia.

The Christmas Song

Another song that must be played is The Christmas Song sung by Nat King Cole from 1961 with its full orchestral arrangement. It is one of the definitive songs of the season.

The liquid gold of Nat King Cole's voice smoothes our ruffled feathers after we've ventured out in the shopping-crazed world.

The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole’s behest – and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records – a second recording was made later the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts.

Cole again recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael.

Cole’s 1961 version is generally regarded as definitive, and in 2004 was the most-loved seasonal song with women aged 30-49, while the original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.

Christmas Songs And History

Many of our Christmas songs are steeped in history.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen – was written in England in the early 1800s as a reaction to church music of the 15th century.

Carol of the Bells – was composed in 1916 and was based on an old Ukrainian folk tune. It was originally named Shchedryk. It means "the little swallow" and it was a New Year's song. The little swallow flies into a home and sings to the family about the bountiful year that awaits them.

The English lyrics that we associate with Christmas were published and copyrighted in 1936. 

Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabelle – originated from the Provence region of France in the 16th century. Initially, it wasn't a Christmas song at all, but rather a dance song for nobility.

The list goes on. It's impossible to complain about a lack of Christmas songs.

And everyone has to record their own version of them on every instrument possible. What are your favorite renditions?

Merry Christmas to One and All.


(The Radiance Technique® is not associated with any religion or belief system.
Please see Radiant Nursing – About for more details.)


Saint Nicolas Has A Story To Tell

Who Is Saint Nicolas?

While living in Europe and spending time in France, I made a discovery. There was a flurry of activity associated with the date of 06 December and Saint Nicolas.

But, wait a minute. What was Saint Nick doing here instead of his usual haunt of 25 December for Christmas?

Saint Nicolas And Santa Claus

Naturally, I've known our modern-day American Santa Claus all my life, but I wasn't raised Catholic. I was unaware of Saint Nicolas, the saint, per se. .

Time for sleuthing. Off I launched on the trail. Saint Nicolas was actually a real person born in Greece and a remarkable 4th-century Christian saint who lived a long time ago from 15 March 270 to 06 December 343.

In 325, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine and appear at the First Council of Nicaea. Nicolas was a staunch defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed.

The story of Saint Nicolas has a bit more flavor than our present-day Santa Claus. Finding the connection between Santa and Saint helped to explain how he came to have his nickname of Saint Nick.

The Story Of Saint Nicolas

If you spend any time looking at original fairy tales and at The Brothers Grimm, pre-Disney, you will find harsh renditions of these tales. Violent endings were commonplace and wickedness was, without apologies, very wicked.

Exploring these harsh-reality versions is fascinating and a peek back into time. My first taste of this was reading The Little Matchstick Girl, published in 1845 by Hans Christian Andersen. She died on New Year's Eve, sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a building, frozen to death. The next morning, people walked by in their warm coats and gloves and scarcely gave notice. Life was as hard as nails in those days.

True to the storytelling of that time, probably the most important miracle of Saint Nicolas recounts a gruesome tale of a butcher who lured three angelic (naturally) children into his home. It was dark and they were lost after a day of gathering sticks in the forest.

The butcher happily welcomed them. He then proceeded to chop them all up, as only a butcher can, and store them in a big bin. Presumably for midnight snacks or to sell the meat to the unsuspecting villagers.

You can see their little shoes lined up after he has killed them in this illustration. Egads!

In the story of Saint Nicolas, the butcher chops up the children

The Miracles Of Saint Nicolas

Now, Saint Nicolas is one awesome saint. I mean, it's one thing to bring an intact dead body back to life. But to reassemble chopped up bits and bring all three children back to life is a top-of-the-line saint by anyone's standards.

And, that is just what he did.

He visited the village and stopped by the butcher's house. When the butcher offered him other meats, Saint Nicolas said, "No, I want what is in that bin!" He pointed three fingers and out came the revived children.

In the story of Saint Nicolas, he saves the three children

Penance For The Wicked Butcher

Don't think the butcher got away with it.

When the butcher begged for mercy, Saint Nicolas pardoned him, but on the condition that the now-repentant butcher would travel with him throughout the land as penance.

The butcher is known as Père Fouettard. Fouettard comes from the word for whip in French. Père Fouettard is usually dressed in black or dark clothes and he carries a switch to whip all the bad children.

Saint Nicolas brings treats for the good children.

Père Fouettard travels with Saint Nicolas with switches to whip all the bad children

Celebrating Saint Nicolas Day

Saint Nicolas Day is celebrated mostly in the northern parts of Europe as well as in Russia. Children place their sabots, wooden shoes, by the door or near the fireplace for Saint Nicolas to fill them with little treats.

However, instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, Saint Nicolas travels with a humble donkey. Along with their wooden shoes, children usually leave out a carrot or two as a tasty treat for their four-footed friend.

Saint Nicolas is often depicted walking with his donkey and Père Fouettard following behind, carrying his switches.

Just as our American Santa Claus will don an outfit and visit children, so too, will Saint Nicolas and Père Fouettard. French adults recount the visceral fear they felt as little children when Père Fouettard would visit their schools and villages. Well, with good reason... chopped up into bits would terrorize anyone.

In France, there is also Père Noël (Father Christmas) who appears on Christmas Eve, like our Santa Claus. They celebrate the day of Saint Nicolas and Père Noël also visits them with goodies for Christmas Eve, so they luck out twice in December.

The story of Saint Nicolas

Saint Nicolas – Patron Saint

Saint Nicolas is quite the active patron saint. After his amazing feat of bringing three children back to life, he is the patron saint for all lost children.

He is also the patron saint for sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Lighting Our Legends

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can use TRT® hands-on to become more in touch with their own awareness about the story. When studying history, your use of TRT® can put you more in touch with events. If you wish to go deeper, tales such as these are symbolic of energies of good and evil and even our own journey within.

For students of The Second Degree of TRT®, it is possible to direct energy across time and space, to Saint Nicolas himself. Isn't it amazing that someone from almost 700 years ago can still touch us today?

Wooden shoes are placed in front of the fire for the Feast Day of Saint Nicolas

December 6 – Feast Day Of Saint Nicolas

What about you? Will you be leaving out your wooden shoes on the 6th of December for Saint Nicolas?

I know I will. Luckily, I was able to pick up some wooden shoes when I lived in Germany. I just hope he can find me now, in the United States, far from his usual stomping grounds of Northern Europe.

Fortunately, the connections of the heart know no boundaries or distance. We'll be sure to find each other there.

Have a wonderful Saint Nicolas Day.