The Heart Melts in Springtime

This newsletter and the Squirrel Dialogues project are made possible by humans just like you. You can support me on Patreon, via Venmo and other things, and by sharing this newsletter.

Spring has sprung with all the subtlety of a Disney movie. Birds sing from 5 AM till 9 PM. The green of the forest vibrates with psychedelic intensity. Tourists paw at their phones, their faces frozen in mid-smile, in a vain attempt to capture the climax of a northern sunset.

Much to my great gladness, I’m experiencing a spring of my own. Change is in the air. I’ve made the decision to go back to school this fall, to Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. That means moving “off island,” as we say in the local dialect.  An endeavor for which I will be launching a fundraiser very soon (details below).

It has also been a season of healing. In the last three months I’ve embarked on two grief ceremonies and two extraordinary medicine sessions. And I find my heart rising like the spring sun, and setting each night in technicolor glory.

And then I have to file a tax return, or sit lonely in my little hobbit hole, or trip over my family trauma yet again. So imagine Snow White, but with death and taxes. You know, Life.

My spring of healing began with a medicine session, the first of two guided encounters with a certain empathogen—entactogen. You’re probably wondering where I land on the age-old empathogen vs. entactogen debate. I like empathogen. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, empathogens are psychoactive medicines that produce feelings of oneness, relatedness, and empathy.

I’ll write about the sessions in much more detail soon, but for the moment I can say I’ve never felt better in my body, never felt safer and more open around human beings, than in those gorgeous encounters. They were vacations from a traumatized, wounded body. They were encounters with the unreservedly loving part of myself. I was, for those evenings, a trusting social animal, purring in contentment.

In my research on empathogen therapy, I’ve heard this curious thing, that people therapize themselves while in the medicine. That their guides or therapists simply sit by and listen, as the client openly and easily examines their own wounds, feels the necessary feelings, and lands in loving acceptance.

And I can report that this is precisely what happened. And so much more. That in finding safety in my own body, I could at last inhabit it without resistance. I could examine each part, each wound, each shame, with complete tenderness. Nothing was off limits. I simply had no aversion in me, at all. In that sense the experiences were utterly alien, visitations to a place I’d never been, and yet it all felt. So. Right.

Strong recommend.

Subscribe now

First some news, and then an essay about being bathed in infinite love.


A few weeks ago Krista Tippett sent me (and thousands of others on her email list) a fundraising appeal entitled, Love Us – An Invitation.

I wish I had her copywriter. I am in the process of inviting the world to love me and my work, through a GoFundMe campaign. This involves my two least-favorite things: Asking for help, and self-promotion.

In the beginning of this year I left a part-time job and committed all my efforts to my healing art and writing. I’ve since learned that offering love and healing for free is not a sustainable business model. My bank account is nearly exhausted (and would have been months ago if not for the bedrock support of my 95 Patreon patrons and other numerous micro-donors).

The fundraiser is my opportunity to make my big ask of the world:

Do you want me to do this, or not? Because I am here, and ready, and doing the work. But I can’t do it much longer, not without the help of many more people.

I know the need for healing messages is there, I hear it every day from my friends, my community, and my viewers. And I see the need all over my society. But my audience, or my 95 Patreon patrons, cannot be the only ones to raise this barn. We need many more people to make this lift.

This feels like a movie cliffhanger moment. Will I find support to pursue my art and my education? Will I go broke before the GoFundMe launches? Will I move off island to attend Evergreen?

I think we’re about to find out. This is either a very anxious time or a very exciting one.

Help Evan not die of capitalism

Your compassion is in the mail

Last episode I announced the relaunch of Standard Rainbow, and the release of a line of psychospiritual conversation pieces. I’m happy to report I have shipped compassion, grief, and healing to Massachusetts, California, and Florida, and places in between. No one has purchased a quart container of trauma, which I’m frankly puzzled about.

To encourage more of a collect-em-all spirit, I’ve dropped pricing and offered discounted mix-n-match 2- and 4-packs. And in case you’re wondering, our biggest seller by far has been Radical Compassion (with heavy duty boundaries).

Radical Compassion spotted in Portland, OR, via Carson

Squirrel makes a Cameo

You can now order a custom Squirrel video through a service called Cameo. Since joining the service in March, I’ve recorded 10 videos for fans.

A typical Cameo video consists of a minor celebrity offering a birthday greeting from their breakfast nook. If you ask Squirrel (or Rage Rabbit, or Worry Fox) a question, they will take you into the woods for a meditative journey into the subconscious. Most Cameos are a single-take video less than a minute in length. Squirrel’s Cameos are actually longer than an average Squirrel Dialogues video.

I was hesitant to start this service because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to answer specific questions about people’s lives. Or worse yet, I might be asked for advice.

My worst fears are realized, in that I am consistently asked for advice about really hard life stuff: Procrastination, self-acceptance, grieving the suicide of a family member.  Somehow, when I go into the woods, Squirrel delivers a response. Rarely advice, usually more of a meditation. Some fans mark their videos as public, which is why I can show you this:

Producing the videos is a new level of intensity for me. The work is focused on a single human being, somewhere out there, who needs a compassionate witness. I take the work very seriously. The reviews have brought tears to my eyes:

When I tell you I have never felt more seen or comforted in my life, it’s an understatement. This squirrel has saved me numerous times, and the video I ordered was perfection. Such a kind and gentle soul — Anonymous

And also, the economics of Cameo makes no sense. I make about 10 dollars an hour on these videos after fees of 25 to 45%—but I have priced them at a rate that most people can afford, and I’d prefer to do them for free.

Squirrel Highlights

Lately Squirrel has been ascending into the spiritual stratosphere, asking questions about love and life. I guess my healing work is leaking into the art, as it should. Every time I post a video, I wonder, have I gone too far? Am I too bold in my language? Does someone who is suffering really want to hear that suffering is part of what this is?

Or that, regardless, they are absolutely inundated, submerged in love?

Well, let’s ask them. As part of my GoFundMe project, I posted a short video asking my viewers for feedback.  And they love-bombed me with 150 comments and at least one video which cracked open my heart. Here are a few:

@karmaisawful:Your videos came when I was at one of the lowest parts of my life. Because of your videos, I was able to look internally and forgive myself. Keep it🆙

@Not Pao, Just Ana: When I listen to you I feel seen and understood. It reminds me that I’m not the only one with conflicting feelings and morals. You take me out of my comfort zone by prompting deep reflections that help me understand myself a little bit more without feeling judged.

@ahrah_mithrarin:You saved my life once. They help me stay grounded, to see something beyond the void

@honeyyey:squirrel makes me feel like everything is going to be okay

That time I became an incandescent torch of love

If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be this: That true grieving is beautiful and healing. That it is a big part of what we’re missing, and a big part of healing our world.

Okay, that was three things.  Brevity is not my thing.

In the past year I’ve attended four grief ceremonies. They are weekend-long community events based on grief rituals from the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, as brought to the West by Sobonfu and Malidoma Somé.  I wrote more about this in my first two essays on grief work (Part 1 and Part 2).

I had no idea going into this work that this, THIS is the medicine for me.  I had no idea that drumming, singing, sharing, and wailing with a group of neighbors would be the strongest trauma therapy I’ve encountered.

It’s uncanny, too, that this is such old knowledge. That once upon a time we all knew how to do this. And I can tell you, when I’ve done grief rituals, they feel as natural as breathing. The knowledge is inside all of us.

My first grief ceremony was this spring, on Orcas Island. At the ritual, I had a beautiful and heart-rending encounter with another participant, which inspired this spoken word piece.

For my second grief ritual, I rejoined my men’s grief group, this time on neighboring Lummi Island. There I had what I would describe as a spiritual experience. It went something like this:


I am swinging the bat into the mat over and over again


I am raging at all the violence, the toxic men, the taking, the power over, the desecration

I hit the mat so hard the top of the bat snaps off

So I set it down and start punching the pillow

I say other vile things about this world

And then I collapse on the pillow and hold it like a teddy bear and sobs convulse up from my belly and through my chest and out my face

And I say

I don’t like it here

I’ve been so scared

I’ve been so alone

For however long it takes, which is outside of clock time

And great heaving sobs work through my body like seismic waves

A deep hoarse sound I’m unaccustomed to hearing coming out of my own mouth

Like how a baby would cry if a baby was six feet tall and had big lungs

ohh ohh ohh

I leave the pillow and collapse on a big mat by the altar

Prostrate, flat out, utterly undefended

It just keeps going, it keeps coming out

Convulsions, waves, each one taking me deeper

To the heart of the matter

I’ve been so lonely here

I’ve been so scared

It’s too much

I hate it here

It’s so awful here

I want a mom

I want a dad

It’s like falling through the floors of a building, down, down, down, down

Until I’m deeply subterranean

The ego clears its throat and suggests I’ve been taking a while at the altar

I’m aware of the wails and screams of men to my left and right. The altar at this moment is full. Behind us, our seconds, our watchers, benignly holding vigil over us. I have no idea who is behind me, I haven’t looked.

I’m here to grieve so I swan dive further down, heedless of any sense of ground.

Fucking let go.

So I do, I do


Deep down in the weightless depths of grief, I am wailing

I want to love

I want to be loved

And a voice says

You are loved, dummy

And I say

Am I?

And the voice says,

Turn around and look

And so I do. I rise to my knees and turn from the altar and gaze upon the “village”

The back of the room, where 20 some men sing and dance

This is for you, dummy, says the voice

And this is when I crack



And the bottomless sorrow transforms, transmutes (for this is alchemy)

And I stagger to my feet and I make eye contact with my second and he smiles and sings for me and I come in close and I tell him

I want to look

And I lean on him like the wounded man I am

And I take the force of the love like a hurricane blast

I look into the eyes of men I know and those I’m just meeting and each glows with love, compassion, empathy

They smile as they sing and dance for we who grieve

Then I catch a friend’s eyes, and instantly his face melts into gladness and tears pour out of his eyes

And I fully open

My teeth gritted against the force of the blast, tears and mucus running from my face

I’m making much the same sound as before, as I sob and shake

But in it a hint of a laugh (you’ll find that laughing and crying are nearly the same)

This is the alchemical transformation from big grief to big praise

My body racked by waves, but this time in thanksgiving, in gladness

Now I say

Oh god

It’s so beautiful

I didn’t know

I didn’t know

I lean on my second in my ecstasy and my praise

I lean my eyes into Friend’s and we weep together though we are some 20 feet apart

Separated by the cedar boughs that mark the division

Between the village and the grief altar

I’m on the other side, the grief and praise place

And Friend is in the village, dancing and singing for us

I can’t leave yet

Because now I’m overcome with praise

And so I collapse on the altar again

And wet it with my salt

And my heart, that locked garden, swings open wide

And thrums with the love in the room

A love that smells like sweat and sage

And sounds like drums and like the song we’re singing:

I trust this grief will return me

Again, again, again

This work is holy

Soul cleansing slowly

Again, again, again


I stumble out of the altar space and into the village and am met by smiles and hugs

And at last the altar is empty (last call!)

And we quiet

And we lay on the floor

And then we rise in a circle, arms intertwined around shoulders, a singular circle of brotherhood

And I can’t help it, the praise keeps coming

I leak, and I lean on my brothers, and I weep as we silently stand

My heart open like two outstretched hands

My arms encircling the bodies of the men to my left and right

I look up at the ceiling, through the skylight, at the blue sky

And my whole body gives thanks, my whole being

And the thought comes in, and I’m just going to say it:

This must have been what Jesus felt, on the cross

Rapturous love for all life, overwhelming thanksgiving

Happy to die now


Afterwards, as I toddle around the wooded grounds in stunned humility

Men come up to me, and they say, all of them

When you turned and looked at us

We saw the most extraordinary thing

We saw love pouring out of your face

We saw the perfect love of a child

And we felt it

It cracked us open too


I thought my heart was broken

Now I know it was loving and being loved

This whole time


Some Links

The song we sang in the grief ritual is Apprentice by my friend Ahlay Blakely. She is in the process of recording Wails, an album of grief songs. You can hear Apprentice in Ahlay’s recent interview on the Bliss is Ordinary podcast. & you can support her work here.

Judith Herman, the grandmother of modern trauma healing, has emerged from some 30 years of quiet with a new book, Truth and Repair. The book is focused on what trauma survivors desire in terms of justice, a subject near and dear to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s