Free falling. photo wcw

Pareidolia noun The perception of a recognizable image or meaningful pattern where none exists or is intended, as the perception of a face in the surface features of the moon.

Discovering a new word, especially one that names a phenomenon I did not realize was a ‘thing’ is always interesting.

Pareidolia is quite common in humans according to online research and a small survey I conducted asking friends (or anyone I could interest) what they saw, if anything, in a series of photographs I took recently.

This Spring I attended a Geopoetics Symposium. I was unsure of what Geopoetics actually was at the time and probably couldn’t give a good definition even now, having attended and had time for reflection. One afternoon I attended a session that invited us to walk the shore at low tide in a “counter clockwise circulation” forming a circle in the sand “that we would later in the evening watch the sea edit.” Rain was pounding down and only five hardy participants showed up.

We faced the downpour and proceeded to walk in counter clockwise circulation on the exposed sand. The large circle we formed filled with rainwater causing the sides to collapse….any indentation we produced was quickly refilled with sand. I was about to abandon our efforts when my eye caught an image that had formed earlier by the pull of the outgoing tide.

Below is the first image I took of ‘Salish Sea Performance Art’ Mother Nature seemed more adept at producing and leaving impressions in the sand than we humans.

Portal. photo wcw

‘Performance art’ because the images are formed and stay only during low tide and then are “edited’ hours later by the incoming water. Twice a day everyday, I started returning every day at low tide and each day there was a new gallery of images.

Rotating the images once I downloaded them I stopped at the rotation that felt right. I cropped some of them but I have not altered them in any other way. The one below took my breath away when I rotated it into position. Everyone sees something different, please leave a comment below and let me know what you see.

Down from the Mountain. photo wcw

The instructions we had read before starting our wet, circular walk read in part:

“Our shoreline interaction may spur participants to explore estrangement, intimacy, rural ritual, chronology, history, and/or relationship with human and more-than-human watery bodies. The interaction may be considered Geopoetics performance-as-research. There will be ears, and the shore will be a room.”

No circle was produced that day but upon rereading our instructions I realize that I was shown original artwork produced by a more-than-human watery body that reveals something new to each person I share it with.

14 thoughts on “Pareidolia

    1. Thank you Cheyenne. It is easy to chicken out when you are ‘seeing things that don’t exist or weren’t intended’ 🙂 It took me a long time to decide to share this post. So good to have fellow travellers on this or any adventure.


    1. Yes, I didn’t see that at first but certainly do now. I saw a crone or a portal of some kind when I first spotted it, but almost everyone else that has looked at it had a similar comment to yours as soon as they looked at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. hello 🙂 very cool….. it’s like the wind.. the rain.. and the tides are like the Tibetan Lama’s…. that create an intricate.. complex mandala…
    then wipe it away to show and teach the impermanence of this life and material world…… yet it’s recreated and renewed daily…….natures pretty amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh WOW Janet, what an eye you have & love the interpretive dance you’ve invited us to. First picture I see a woman stretching, 2nd one love the title “portal,” definitely is. Whereas “Down from the mountain” is an angry rooster flapping his wings ahahaaa & the last one has me puzzling so i like the single strand of seaweed shaped like a question mark. You are so gifted. xxme


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love hearing what others see….thank you for playing with me. In the one where you see an angry rooster I see a Sage/ hermit in robes coming down from the mountain, he is on the left, one arm out to the tree?wall?
      Amazing what our minds can do.


  3. Wow. As a fellow “pareidoliac”, thank you so much for posting these, Janet! I’m just now seeing them. The last image is very curious. Love the question mark seaweed. I see a very large, thin rabbit bringing a gift from his/her basket of gems to a smaller rabbit who is sitting on a post. There’s a wonderful myth lurking somewhere in there! What a great eye you have!

    Liked by 1 person

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