Kaleb Smith is a transpersonal researcher specializing in modeling psychedelic cognition, in both modern clinical and ancient shamanic contexts. His Master's degree from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology specialized in Transpersonal Education and Research (TERS) was attained concurrent to his work at the Neurophenomenology laboratory in Palo Alto, CA, where he completed a pilot study utilizing a 64-channel EEG array to measure the neurological correlates of isochronic entrainment stimuli. After graduation, Smith went on to work at Stanford University's Psychophysiology laboratory, assisting in EEG research exploring the neurological signature of emotional regulation techniques. His current doctoral dissertation research attempts to relate latent inhibition (LI) and semantic hyperpriming models to the psychedelic state, to better understand the cognitive mechanics of the entheogenic, transpersonal, and "unitive" states of consciousness.
Modeling the Flesh of God: Semantic Hyperpriming and the Teonancátl Cults of Mexico
The ritualistic use of the ancient psychoactive sacrament teonanácatl, or “The Flesh of God,” represents an integral aspect of pre-colonial Mesoamerican culture and continues, in various syncretic forms, to this day. Providing a brief history of various tribes of Mexico known to utilize Psilocibe species within a shamanic context, focusing primarily on the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, this paper attempts to utilize contemporary cognitive research of psilocybin to better understand and contextualize the ancient teonanácatl ceremony; specifically, research into psilocybin’s induction of the hyperpriming state of cognition. Hyperpriming, or indirect semantic priming, is characterized by its expansive branched hierarchical associative structure within the semantic network and presents us with a valid and useful explanatory framework with which to interpret many of the reported psychological, linguistic, perceptual, and transpersonal effects characterizing the traditional teonanácatl ceremony.