Aged paper with pieces of seaweed and their scientific names in intricate lettering.
Aged paper with pieces of seaweed and their scientific names in intricate lettering.
Summer 2023

Entwined with Phantoms

A Note from the Editors

Often, the departed leave traces behind. Sometimes, their imprints are small. Other times, they intertwine with our lives in inexorable ways.

In the summer 2023 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you five stories that explore how phantoms of the past haunt the present — in ways that terrify us, enlighten us, and change us forever.

Pursuing the lost histories of refugees caught in the whirlwind of World War II, writer Mike Bernhardt heads to the windswept coast of Ireland’s Mullet Peninsula. Once there, his multi-decade Quest broadens beyond the stories of family to those of strangers who risked their lives in The Tides of War.

Thousands of miles and several decades away, in an unlikely setting for A Devilish Pursuit, an after-school group wages their own battle. In photojournalist Rachel Wisniewski’s Portrait story and photo feature, that group is at the center of a pending legal conflict where tyrannies of the past permeate the present. With the separation of church and state at stake, the harrowing experience of one mother’s 17th-century ancestor is mirrored in the contemporary fight.

Then, in our Human & Nature feature, with original artwork by Annie Davidson, writer and neuroscientist Dr. Irene Salter takes us through the streets of Rome and into the brains of her research subjects. Playing with perspective, Salter’s Thought Experiment illuminates the torment of a stolen connection that allows her to rewire her own mind.

Travel journalist Robin Catalano’s perspective also shifts as she delves into the incredible wealth of the colonial spice trade in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. In her Time Travel feature, Catalano discovers fragments of erased stories beneath the opulence of some of the nation’s first millionaires. Those stories, alongside original artwork by Emily Larsen, come to life in The Bitter Taste of Fortune.

And caught in A Tempest of Dread at the End of the World, writer Ellen Murray takes on Patagonia’s W Trek in our Chasing Demons feature. There, amongst the glaciers and roaring winds, she braves the panic of a memory that has stalked her for months, and sets out on a harrowing path of hope.

With gratitude for all the storytellers and readers whose lives are entwined with our own,

Sabine K. Bergmann and Sivani Babu, Hidden Compass Co-founders