Some science behind the scenes

Nose bleeds

Nose bleeds are a side effect of spiritual experience. They can also occur to people who have an inherited ability to have experiences.

One of the best and most graphic films to show what happens in a really extreme spiritual experience is Pi or π.  Pi is a 1998 black-and-white American psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky, who won the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and the Gotham Open Palm Award. This film was Darren Aronofsky's directorial debut.  The title refers to the mathematical constant π (pi).  Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), the story's main character, has the gift of the savant, but suffers, really suffers from nose bleeds.  Max also suffers from cluster headaches, as well as visions.

During vision quests, North American shamans sometimes bled from the nose and mouth. We can also draw  parallels with the southern African accounts of hallucinatory travel.  Flight and nasal haemorrhaging are experiences common to both continents.

   

 

 

 


These two cave paintings show nose bleeds, the left one is of a shaman in his animal form. On the right is an actual shaman with a bleeding nose.

The correct name for a nose bleed is ‘Epistaxis’. It is a hemorrhage from the nose, usually noticed when the blood drains out through the nostrils. There are two types: anterior which is the most common, and posterior which is less common, but is more likely to require medical attention. Sometimes in more severe cases, the blood can come up the nasolacrimal duct and out from the eyes. Fresh blood and clotted blood can also flow down into the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting.

One common cause of nose bleeds is the insufflation of drugs or ‘snorting’ drugs in the form of snuff or similar.  It can also be caused by other sorts of inflammatory reactions to things like smoke or dust or other irritants. [Smoke and steam  inhalation is one technique used by shamans].

It appears that it can also be caused by the sudden changes in blood pressure caused by intense spiritual experience.  As the emotions are extremely high during a spiritual experience, the emotions can cause the blood pressure to rise extremely fast – which is in itself dangerous, and the sudden rise may cause the haemorrhaging.

Observations

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