As children, many of us took great pleasure in laying on the grass searching the passing clouds for animal shapes. Pointing to a particular cloud, we’d excitedly call out, “Look! I see a bear.”
“That’s not a bear,” our cohort would reply, “It’s a dog.”
At night, we argued whether we saw a man or a rabbit in the moon.
Some believe they see religious images in common objects such as trees, rocks, or even a slice of bread. Shrines are built and thousands flock to view these sacred icons .
The hall and staircase walls in the house I grew up in were highly textured, two-toned, tan and brown plaster. I used to sit on the stairs and look for familiar shapes or images on the walls. Faces, animals, and various commonplace objects reveled themselves to me.
Finding patterns in randomness is called as pareidolia. Wikipedia describes, Pareidolia as a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists.
Over the years, I’ve come across many of these patterns or images. I started taking photographs of them several years ago. So, let’s see if you see what I see.
The photo above, of a ghoul peering out of an old oak tree, was taken on a hike at Pinnacles National Park in California. When I first came upon it, this phantom actually scared me. Now it just creeps me out.
Old Man of the Trees, is an optical illusion in a Monterey Cypress tree at Point Lobos, California.
When I first saw this image, I thought it looked like an ox, chewing on tree leaves. My daughter sees a hippo. Now, I can see both. Really, it’s just an odd tree root growing out of some rocks along the De Anza Trail in California.
Disguised as an ancient oak, Norbert, the dragon, is my favorite illusion. He presides over the De Anza trail, keeping hikers safe.
Once thought to be the sign of a neurotic personality pareidolia is actually fairly common. It is now associated with a positive mood and perfectly healthy Scientists believe observing random patterns in the world around us helps us to make sense of our day to day experiences. I’m sure glad they discovered that.
What did you see in my pictures? Do you experience pareidolia?
“Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic” -Laura Smith
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