Ybyrá.Tyba: Notes on hybrid cultivation and other sap memories
Art-Life Rituals for Radical Tenderness (8/8)

Ybyrá.Tyba: Notes on hybrid cultivation and other sap memories

Perceiving myself as a part of a biome means being aware that there is a scene full of human and non-human bodies, that wrapped in sunlight and moon sap, transmute the ways of catching the eye, the flesh, and the destructive future.

Translated by Savio Lodé ◈ Images by Thainá Iná

I am placed now on a point of the earth whose eastern shores are bathed by the South Atlantic Ocean. Home of deities, it is a great cradle and graveyard. Thickening the path at this crossroads are relationships between the Tropic of Capricorn, the Global South and the Atlantic biome of southeastern Brazil, almost made extinct by the demands of the human quest for civilization and all the originary and diasporic histories that have been connected here.

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In a self-reference to this relationship of space-time and memory, I am exposing crafts of healing performed with the landscape, paying respect to a collective aesthetic of the earth and its diverse bodies in a performative configuration of Atlantic biophilias.

What affects you in this landscape?

The first questions are nearly always intimate ones.

The ones that come after may expect help from oralitures,[1] books, digital apps, and other toolboxes of memory.

Some questions arise from the landscape:

What is the latitude and longitude of the memories that pass through you?

Enter the forest
Perceive the sonorous flow, the air, the matter
As if the earth were your most ancestral reflection
Give birth to a temporary zone of affection with the landscape
Dedicate time to this connection so that you can perceive yourself as landscape.

Along the way, I keep some notes in my sketchbooks about when I was a tree. They’re written in specific moons, destined for different spaces and times, disorganised, and shuffled so at a certain moment their opening occurs like a tarot spread. Notes of dreams that, when bathed in sunlight, evoke a type of permanency—something about dreams in photosynthesis, because they amplify the feeling of continuity when receiving this light. It means someone moved them, opened them. When the word turns, something concerning a ritual is provided. Something about sharing the dream, here synthesized as a dream-action.

As I write, at other locations of Abya Yala,[2] especially in the region of Brazil, lands are being invaded with the consent of the current government. Mining advances consume ecosystems, open wounds in the Earth, and poison the people of these forests. As I write, hundreds of my relatives from all the biomes of Brazil are in Brasilia, the federal capital, in a permanent struggle for their lives, whose existential relationship with the territories continues to be threatened.

I ask myself, what devices can I dream of within the violent demands of this state?

I dreamt that when I submerge my feet into the fresh and fertile soil we share secrets about our walks and choreographies. The soils from which I germinated, I came out from, those I transplanted, walked. The one that I am now, taking roots.

Walla told me about a writer who wove about freedom while we dream.

Some questions emerge during the journey of materialising the dream.

Do you have any seeds in your hands now?
If not now, do you have some at home?
Have you ever wondered about the origin of that seed?
When was the last time you planted?
What is the sum of your carbon footprint in the atmosphere?

Anti-monoculture composition

In the place where I am, perceiving myself as a part of a biome means being aware that there is a scene full of human and non-human bodies, that wrapped in sunlight and moon sap, transmute the ways of catching the eye, the flesh, and the destructive future. Through visible and invisible gestures they reorient aspects of life, rediscovering in the landscape of the skin the paths already walked and in the lines of the hands those to be written. From the root of the toe to the top of the head, in symbiosis with vines, branches, seedlings: an intimate and ancient communion between the species of the same garden.

Recognize yourself as a composer of diversity, connected with diverse cultures through the flower-beds of our mother Earth. To fabulate with the plants I live with, as if I could at some point weave languages in common, makes me more attuned to this perception. I preserve these conversations when I sleep, dreams of when I was a tree.

When cut in half, part of me arrived in a city very developed in pollutant matters. Sliced and heavy I circulated on the roads until I entered some shops, houses and hangars. At that point the sap had already stanched and the memory wasn’t mine anymore, no matter how much I was part of those undertakings.

The other part of me relied on other closer roots, considering regenerating with time, sap and light. Regenerating is something pertinent to us, daughters of earth.

Which moon are we on today?

Here is the memory of the tree-body, whose seeds at the turmoil of other cultures squirm the soil in a reclaiming process, sprouting other cartographies from the inner darkness of the soil to the brightness of our biosphere.

I ask about the moon because it is necessary. She is the one that influences the sap flow. To help regenerate plant memory, I propose the full moon as with her we are complete. In other phases our exchange may pass through other processes, such as sprouting, pruning, composting, among others.

Where is the nearest forest to you?
How far are you from there now?

Returning to the forest as a constituent part of the memory of that ecosystem.

The tree-body recovers in the hair the sense of the crowns, lush, providing shade, incorporating other bodies while considering other possible spacialities for bromeliads, boa constrictors and others that inhabit the inner forest. In the full moon we share powers, in the desire and handling of exchanges I carry seeds for each braid in a ritual of connection and dispersal. In the public forest I invite a gathering, I feed, offer, transplant, anchor and receive, incorporate, regenerate, and revolt.

ritual action 1

The back of someone's head. Thick stems of plants are braided into the hair.
At full moon, I walk from downtown to the nearest forest, carrying seeds and threads.
Inside the forest, the hair is braided, wrapping the seeds together with the other trees.
There is a movement of permanence (before, during, after).
There is a cutting of the braided hair at the end of the movement.
As it rains and the wind blows, the braids spread seeds into the space.

An important part of this movement with the Earth is also being aligned with the climate of the region we live in. The chosen day for the action was mild. April full moon, autumn.
Another essential detail of this process is trying to make it happen safely.
By coexistence I've known the neighbouring forest well.

The ritual was performed in one of the small trails of the municipal garden of Niterói, the nearest forest to where I am, with help from Letícia Rocha, Thayná Iná, Mapô, and other dear ones who followed the path until the ritual point and were part of the happening. I’m deeply grateful to them, and especially to my friend Letícia who sensitively braided me to the generous woods.

While the strands of my hair were braided to the plants’ threads I felt the incorporation of the energy of the memories we sewed from the sap. Trees as pillars of this world, holding the sky, anchoring the earthy skin inside our waters, coordinated by the moon in tune with the ocean tides a few kilometres from us. The circular flow of all exchanged energy.

The seeds I carried in this ritual were of Urukum (Anatto),[3] a tree native to the Amazonian region, with which I’ve been exchanging for some time now. I attached some to the cut braids, hoping they would fall at the best moment.

Others I destined to the slopes in the areas of monoculture, especially the eucalyptus ones. I planted them during the waning moon, when the energies of the earth were already settled and when I went back to the forest to collect the remaining threads.

This process leads to the next ritual action, this time a collective one.

ritual action 2

Daily Radical Seeding

Before everything and anything, pay attention to your senses, to what you feel in this moment. The body you perceive now is part of the totality I’m referring to—be attentive to your senses.
Notice time in the conformity you’ve been taught.
And then deviate.
Know a way back, if necessary.
The time we’ve been taught may not be ours, so set aside the perception of linear time, binarized into day and night.

Go beyond these aspects and sense into the earth moving with the moon, Venus, Mars, and other bodies that dance in the great cosmic ball.

Earth.

We are earth and part of this solar dance amidst blackness, codifying constellations before it all goes out. As Earth, in this spinning movement, we are compositions of all the elements that are here. By a matter of time and experimentation we learn to be what we are. Among all the abilities that pass through our veins, consider affection today.

This proposal involves working with the possible temporalities of the earth and its cosmic rhythm. Human time, plant time, stanched or expanded, varying from body to body in their respective biomes and systems, occurring as a practice committed to the healing of the earth, something like possible “futureologies” for us.

Over the next few days gather together all the seeds you come into contact with. Only the ones that come to you in your everyday life, from food, exchanges… dedicate some time to this process. Store them in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place and take notes about each one.

After some time of storing, with a good number of varied seeds, notice the radicality present in diversity. Notice the dormant life on your hands, ancestral codes we access today.

Feel free to put in practice the following instructions:

Recipe for building a seed holder

  1. Have at hand 2 plastic bottles (of the same size, clean and dry), a roll of insulating tape, a pair of scissors (or utility knife), and a pen.
  1. With the pen, mark out a line around the centre of the bottles and cut them in half, reserving the upper parts (cap and neck).
  1. After making the cut, fit and join together the reserved parts with the tape, so as to create a support with two openings.
  1. Install the seed holder in an accessible point in your home, protecting it from direct light and humidity. The upper entrance supplies the seed bank, the lower lid releases it for cultivation.
    Use seeds suitable in size to the opening of the bottle.
    The remaining parts of the bottles can be used as temporary pots.

Notes to “wake up,” “germinate,” and “expand” your seed holder.

Seedballs:

Besides the gathered seeds, you will need a bit of fertile soil and some clay.
Mix the earth and the clay adding the seeds little by little, forming a little ball.
(you can also mould them into another shape, if you prefer)
After modelling, leave them to dry naturally for 24 hours.
Carry out your interventions in wastelands (throw or drop the balls there), degraded and monoculture areas (public or private), especially the urban ones.
With time, rain releases the seeds into the soil, fulfilling the process of awakening and sprouting them.

Living drawings:

To create a living drawing with the seeds, pay attention to the intended location.
You’ll need a tool to dig up the soil and some water.
Before sowing, I suggest you sketch the desired design in the place intended (a straight line, circle, spiral).
Dig enough depth and then distribute the seeds with attention to their spacing.
After planting, cover them with soil and irrigate them.

Distribute the seeds to your neighbours. Plant them wherever you pass.
In this way, part of the seedbank can be filled and refilled by you.
This can lead to the possibility of amazing exchanges with other cultivators and biomes.

Ritualizating little interventions with seeds leads us to compose the landscapes around us, connecting the various temporalities on earth.
This produces life and modifies the destructive and monocultural purposes of species and thoughts.

From now on, may our relationship with the memory and future of the earth have the cultivation of life as its performative orientation.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the series, especially to Dani d’Emilia and the GTDF collective for the greatness of the project and for the open paths for us to co-sense together. I am also grateful to Savio Lodé who translated this text and to all the others involved in this work…


Endnotes

[1] The term “oraliture,” coined by Leda Maria Martins, refers to forms of communication of oral and ritual nature, traditional to Indigenous and quilombola communities, as well as riverine and/or other rural communities.

[2] Abya Yala is the name by which the Kuna people, the original people of the lands currently known as Colombia and Panama, called the continent we know today as America. Abya means “blood,” which for the Mesoamerican peoples meant life. In the language of the Kuna people, Abya Yala means “mature land,” “living land”, or “flourishing land.”  Many Indigenous peoples and people dedicated to the fight against coloniality currently use the term Abya Yala to name Latin America as a political position that recognizes the existence of ways of life and knowledge long before modernity. https://malvestida.com/2020/08/que-es-abya-yala-lucha-descolonial/

[3] Annato, known in Brazil as Urucum, is a plant extensively used by different native peoples in the manufacture of red paint, in the production of medicines, and in food preparation. Urucum paint is associated with life—it brings strength, health, and protection.

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Dyó Potyguara is a multilingual visual artist and environmental educator. She researches cosmos-perceptions at the crossroads of Améfrica (Africa and the Americas) guided by the desire for another iconography and future for the seed we plant today.

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