THE STORY BEHIND THE FOUNDING OF THE INSTITUTE
The Peruvian Institute of Shamanism and Natural Medicine (IPCHAMENA) has been made possible by the extraordinary abilities and vision of one man – its founder, Maestro Heberto García, or Niwen Coshi (his Shipibo name).
The Shipibo-Conibo tribal group, originating in the Ucayali Basin south of Iquitos, has for generations been respected as the guardian of the purest form and most powerful secrets of Amazonian shamanism and plant-based healing. Rather like Yale or Harvard, it has been the custom for countless generations amongst other tribes of the Western Amazon to send their would-be shamans to complete their arduous apprenticeship under the guidance of a Shipibo maestro curandero, or master healer.
Heberto numbers amongst his forebears an extraordinary number of onanyas (maestro shamans) and merayas. A Meraya is the ninth and highest grade of a shaman who is capable of appearing invisible to all around him, or otherwise ‘shape-shifting’ – appearing as the legendary jaguar, for example. And this is not the stuff of folklore, but well-attested historical fact. As far as we know, there are no Merayas alive today, but many consider that the last of the historical Merayas was Yosi Ocha who died in 2006.
Yosi Ocha (Spanish name, Guillermo Ramirez) was Heberto’s maternal grandfather and his earliest mentor.