Riddles of Devotion
A Note from the Editors
Every journey begins with a puzzle. Some quandaries captivate the mind, coaxing us into labyrinths of introspection. Other inquiries launch far-reaching missions. What compels us forward can prove as perplexing as the terrain we encounter.
In the autumn 2021 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you riddles of devotion — stories that delve into curiosity and seek to decipher meaning.
The River Has No Hair — koan, or cautionary tale? That’s the enigma at the heart of J.R. Patterson’s Time Travel exploits along Brazil’s snaking São Francisco River. In pursuit of 19th-century explorer Richard Francis Burton’s legacy, Patterson probes the waterway’s past and present while navigating perceptions and reality, obstructions and guidance.
Thousands of miles to the north, Lauren Napier faces fenced-off histories in her Quest to access the truth of Camp Naco and the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there during the Mexican Revolution. From this crumbling adobe outpost, she traces sometimes overlapping Lines of Duty along the desert roads of Arizona and the fertile byways of Virginia, encountering variations on enslavement and the promise of presence.
Also searching for understanding, semi-professional dancer Megan Taylor Morrison follows her passion for Lindy Hop and jazz dance to the West African country of Guinea, where lessons in doundounba, the dance of the strong man, await. Her Portrait of Africa’s first national dance company, Les Ballets Africains, moves to the beat of the djembe drum and balafon, revealing a call and response pulsing with cultural resilience and adaptation. From the stage to the streets, she depicts a tireless tradition of Roots in Motion.
Balancing risk and impulse, Cherene Sherrard carries The Weight of Paradise into the surf. Her Chasing Demons feature rides a wave of racially informed limitations and historic precedent, buoyed by the spirit of Mami Wata and the literary voices of Jesmyn Ward and Toni Morrison. The peril and possibility of boundless freedom saturates the accompanying paintings by Scott Denholm.
In his Human & Nature photo feature, Olivier Guiberteau documents his shifting perception of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of forest-bathing. After more than a year of edification — both inadvertent and intentional, anecdotal and academic — he arrives at A Clearing in the Forest.
As always, we extend our deepest gratitude to our readers, who share our vision of powerful storytelling, and to our contributors, who bring us stories from the frontiers of exploration.
Until the next voyage,
Katie Knorovsky, Managing Editor
Sabine K. Bergmann and Sivani Babu, Hidden Compass Co-Founders