Maestra Manuela Mahua
Maestra Manuela Mahua comes from a long-standing and well-respected family lineage of Shipibo healers from the lower Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon. Born in 1947, she has more than 50 years of experience working with medicine. She began apprenticing with her father at age 13.
Today she heals and teaches, to both Shipibo and foreigners, and she continues to strengthen her samá, observing multiple periods of dieta throughout the year to learn more and keep her healing power in balance. She has a vast knowledge and understanding of the natural pharmacy and is very open to sharing it with those who are willing to make the commitment to carry on the tradition.
Manuela is an incredibly generous and positive force, and in each ceremony she always makes sure to work on each participant individually through singing her incredible variety of healing songs.
Maestro Gilberto Mahua (65 years old).
Gilberto had his first cup of Medicine at age 5 and completed his first dieta at age 11 after being in isolation for 1,5 years only seeing his father, uncle and 2 other brothers who were learning and dieting with him.His Maestros were his father and his uncle (Manuela’s father), the most respected healers of his native village, Paoyan.
He trained in the hard traditional Shipibo way, abstaining from any sexual contact till he turned 25, being in dieta most of the time dieting a vast variety of Master Plants.Nowadays he still lives in the jungle in his native village, working with the medicine and healing whoever requires his service, representing a reference point for all his people.
He is one of the few true healers left, sitting with this Maestro is like stepping back in time.
Jurriën van der Waals
Jurriën van der Waals from the Netherlands has been working with the medicine for about 10 year in various traditions and with different healers. His appreciation for Maestra Manuela Mahua’s wisdom with her open and interactive way of teaching led to his decision to dedicate himself to the tradition of the Mahua lineage. Jurriën and Manuela have developed a very special relationship of trust and respect through 7 years of working together.
In 2010 he worked for 6 months as a volunteer for a well-known center in Iquitos, where he met his first Shipibo Maestro who took him to his village to do a 1-month dieta in isolation. After living and working close with him, deep in the jungle, he realised that the samá and working close with a Maestro, were a truer and more fulfilling way to work with the medicine and to receive deep teachings and healing.
The following year Jurriën went back to the same village to do a 3-month dieta in isolation. Upon completing the dieta he revisited some of the Maestras he worked with in Iquitos and began to strengthen his samá through intense work with Maestra Manuela Mahua, her uncles, and a foreign Maestro who has been trained in her family lineage.
After graduating in sociology and philosophy Francesca started travelling the world for years. She came to the medicine world from a Tibetan Buddhist background. After studying for a few years with a renowned Tibetan master in India in the Himalayan region she moved to the jungle to drink the medicine and study in the Shipibo tradition. Initially planning to stay only for a few months in Peru, she fell in love with the medicine, the healers and the wild nature of the Amazon forest. She ended up delaying her return to India for over nine months and she has been going back to the jungle every year since. She currently studies and works with Maestra Manuela and other Maestros in the Mahua lineage dieting as much as she can.
Brian Robert Best
Brian Robert Best is an anthropologist, ecologist, and amateur linguist who is also a student of Manuela. His academic studies led him to the Ucayali where he has been working, sharing and learning with, and from, the Shipibo since 2003.
He now works in ecological sanitation and language preservation and revitalization with the NGO Alianza Arkana, and, often to the amusement of Manuela, Jurriën and others, is always trying to find time to observe dieta while balancing work and a young family. Brian lives near Manuela and is her travel companion and interpreter.