masthead alt text
Home / Naropa Magazine Fall 2011 / Dragons, Dralas, and Diviners // A Show of Art Work by Marlow Brooks and Laura Marshall
Dragons, Dralas, and Diviners // A Show of Art Work by Marlow Brooks and Laura Marshall

Dragons, Dralas, and Diviners // A Show of Art Work by Marlow Brooks and Laura Marshall

"This exhibition is an evocation of an old sacred cosmos that has acted as a place of close encounter with the spirit world for countless generations. This cosmos has the shape of the Numinous Turtle who swims the endless seas of the Way. The round upper shell of the Numinous Turtle is the Heaven above; the flat lower shell is the square Earth and the Ghost River that runs beneath it. The space between the two shells of the Turtle is the world we live in, the human world. The Dragon is the animating spirit of this cosmos. His weaving body surrounds us as the rippling lifelines in the landscapes around us and as a mysterious vital force circulating through our subtle body that connects us with the power of the inner images that are the symbolic language of the myth-world and the deep personality in all of us."—Stephen Karcher

The Drala—in the Tibetan tradition, known as the Shen or divine spirits in China and Kami in Japan—are the subtle spirits of these places, at once intermediaries for the Dragon energy and protectors of the intimate energies of place that include shrines, altars, springs, mountains, rivers, trees and groves, and our bodies and minds. These are places of close encounters with immaterial realms. They are the crossings, the Dragon Holes that give us access to creative power, places where Heaven and Earth intersect. Divination in this show refers to the possibilities of cracking open frozen emotional and conceptual states that prevent us from experiencing the brilliance of Dralas. Through working with them in a way that offers a language to communicate their messages to us through symbols and synchronicities, we can enter and directly experience this living world.

"Divination is the way we make the connection between the place and the Dragon energy. Through the great oracle books he works with, the diviner offers the Dralas and spirits that live in the crossings a symbolic language that they can use to speak with us. And, through the synchronistic practice of consultation, it lets them choose the symbols through which they wish to communicate. Each time we use this practice to listen to the spirits instead of trying to control them we accumulate their light in our hearts. Over time this practice produces a quantum change in our awareness." —Stephen Karcher

The Dragon becomes our spirit helper and we set foot on the path of a Master Warrior or Realizing Person.

Artist Statement // Marlow Brooks

I've been doing art all my life. It has always served as a powerful source of joy and connection for me. However, when I started meditating 34 years ago, I could no longer paint in the same way: meditation began to open a part of myself I had no language for. So I stopped for a while and discovered Oriental calligraphy, the highest art form of China, Japan, and Korea. The powerful images in black and white spoke to me deeply and I threw myself into learning the ancient discipline in depth. Now, 28 years later, I am interested in bringing the ancient calligraphic images together with the painting and color I pursued in my earlier days.

My work as a healer and acupuncturist has taught me the importance of the power of chi (our life force) and its ability to bring the energy of life itself to every stroke of the brush (or pierce of the needle) and thus transform any image into a living force that wakes us up on the spot. The breathtakingly beautiful Asian aesthetic traditions have served as a deep source of inspiration, nourishment and support for my life path, and fulfilled an ongoing longing, respect and search for these sources of wisdom. The roots of this longing, buried deep in the past, manifest at their best as colorful reflections in the present. They also deeply penetrate and reach for the future like a plant faces the sun and grows around any obstacle to find it. With this inspiration, I offer my work.

MARLOW BROOKS is a calligrapher, painter, and Five Element acupuncturist and healer. After establishing herself as a painter, she went on to study Asian calligraphy twenty-nine years ago, training with Yoneko Mizushima, Kobun Otogawa Roshi, and others. She teaches the Psychology of the Five Elements, Calligraphy, and Buddhist Meditation at Naropa University and conducts private classes in calligraphy and healing. Her work has appeared in solo shows in Canada, the United States, and in major exhibitions with Kobun Otogawa Roshi, the late World Wisdom Chair of Naropa, and Shibata Sensei, the Imperial Bowmaker of Japan. Her calligraphy has traveled for the last six years to international exhibitions in China, Japan, and Korea. She recently received an outstanding award for calligraphy in Shanghai. Her work has been published in numerous books and is featured in J.R. Worsley's forthcoming posthumous book on Chinese classical medicine, The Spirits of the Points. She is a practicing Buddhist, and directs ongoing weekend levels nation-wide in Shambhala Meditation Training. She has taught calligraphy, the Five Elements and the creative process for the last four years at Deer Park Institute in Bir, India.

Artist Statement // Laura Marshall

The paintings and drawings in this exhibit are, for the most part, reflections on divination. They have been made over a period of several years, reflecting an enduring fascination with the connections and resonances between painting and divination, between poetic and oracular speech, and with the path of divinatory vision, seeing between the worlds.

LAURA MARSHALL is an apprentice of the imaginal dimension of the world, working as a painter, a photographer, a writer, and a teacher of art history. She is currently a candidate for PhD in Mythological Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is an ardent and longtime student of the I Ching, including studies with Howard Bad Hand and Stephen Karcher. She has taught classes in the I Ching in the US and Europe.