Compass of the Heart by Priscilla Cogan
“Love is very tricky,” warns Winona Pathfinder, the elderly Sioux medicine woman who has introduced psychologist Meggie O’Connor to the spiritual ways of Lakota prayer and healing. Soon, however, Meggie’s teacher and friend will cross over to the Other Side, leaving Meggie, just forty and newly divorced, to make her way on her own. But before she goes, Winona nudges her younger cousin Hawk to walk alongside Maggie on a journey of the heart and soul. It is this story that is at the center of Compass of the Heart. Priscilla Cogan, bestselling author of Winona’s Web, winner of the Small Press Book Award, is the weaver of this lyrical, incandescent tale of love in all the directions.
With the enigmatic words “It’s a teaching pipe. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll have the luck I did and meet a man worthy of her spirit,” Winona asks Hawk to give Meggie her lightning pipe. This gift marks the beginning of Hawk and Meggie’s relationship. As they turn toward the seven directions of prayer, the Pipe calls forth the Spirits, and leads both Hawk and Meggie deeper into a world of sacred mystery. For the first time in years, levelheaded Meggie has to reckon with romance and the risk of passion. Hawk, a medicine teacher, like his cousin, is torn between his love for the white woman and his loyalty to the red road. Wary yet optimistic, these two seek out the Pipe Road — the path that will lead them to harmony with the world and with each other.
All the while, Winona watches over them and their circle of friends and family. Children scar and heal, husbands betray pained wives, aged sisters ease into the late afternoon of their lives, and animals teach the human beings the true meaning of sacrifice.
Love may be very tricky, they all eventually discover, but it’s a road that can be navigated with faith and hope. “Maybe we don’t have to circle round and round in life,” muses Meggie, “chasing the ancient tales. I’d rather warm myself in the creation of a new story.” Filled with Cogan’s sensuous, intimate renderings of Native American ceremony and custom, as well as her compassion for her characters (whether man or man’s best friend), Compass of the Heart is that magical new story, a novel of great insight and artistry.