Am I setting myself up for MAJOR problems

Hi folks.

I’d like some advice before I start digging into the Major system in more depth.

For a long time now I have had memorised and used the associations in the 1st column after the numerals below. For comparison I have included the Major system recommendations in the 3rd column (taken from

0 - s - s, z, soft c
1 - l - t, d
2 - n - n
3 - m - m
4 - r - r
5 - f - l
6 - b - sh, soft ch, j, soft g, zh
7 - t - k, hard c, hard g, hard ch, q, qu
8 - h - f, v
9 - g - p, b

Where mine are different, here are my reasons for using them:

1 - l - Looks like
5 - f - Sounds like
6 - b - Looks like
7 - t - Looks like
8 - h - Sounds like
9 - g - Looks like

I’m not exactly sure how I first formulated my associations, but there is a strong possibility it was from a very early Harry Lorraine book that I read many many years ago. Maybe I formulated some of the differences because they made more sense to me at the time - I can’t really remember. But the important thing is that I’ve been using my associations for simple lists for many years, and they are firmly fixed in my head.

My question is, have I set myself up for problems in the future as I dig deeper into the Major system? As I see it now I would have a real problem replacing the long standing associations I’ve been using for years.

If it matters, I have never fixed in my memory any associations between numbers and people.

Your suggestions most welcome.

I should add that I am not interested in memorising playing cards, celebrities or anything competitive like that.

A short and general description of my goal is that if I read, hear or see something that I considered to be of importance, that I can slot it away for future recall.

In one instance it might be an isolated fact, in another it might be many related facts.


I keep thinking of qualifiers!

When I said above that I have never fixed in my memory any associations between numbers and people, what I meant by that was that I have always used pretty much any noun rather than people. For example:

11 - lily
12 - lion
19 - log
33 - (my) mum
76 - tub
99 - gag
124 - liner (ship)

Admittedly with my method it becomes difficult to come up with single nouns for numbers above 99.

I would say no, you can always just keep using the method you’re using. If u want to replace these with major system consonants, you would occasionally get ghost images, but its possible. I would recommend adding some more consonants, so not changing the originals that you have, just adding more options. for example
1-L and J
5-f and V
6-b and p
7-t and d
8-h and z
9-g and Q

That would give you more leeway with making words, and more pieces to work with. I don’t know a method that you can come up with a noun for every number 100-999, unless its Ben system which also uses vowels…
The only reason I see to use the same major system as everyone else, is you can share your PAO, or send secret messages…

But for memorizing numbers, I would recommend making and knowing well at least 110 people OR 110 objects if u prefer objects. If u use people, u can always later add 110 actions. This way, you have a ready made image for 0-9 and 00-99 and don’t have to waste time trying to come up with words when it matters.

Do you intend to memorize numbers? Or is it facts like, the sputnik launched in '57? Are u using pegs or memory palaces? Both work of course, just wonder what it is. With pegs, you pick lets say 11 to memorize something. You imagine a lily, and then something happening to it that reminds you of the information. Or a memory palace where u place stuff in palaces or journeys?

Thanks Patrick.I’ll follow your advice and include some extra consonants.

As to what am I learning, I described it fairly thoroughly here.

I’ve already committed some information using pegs, and also a little using using a chain - is that the correct term?

Cat chases horse, horse shot by archer, archer standing atop a crane, archer turns and shoots another horse galloping away from crane.

That chain of events actually gives me 12 actions that apply, one to each meridian, in a specific order.

I don’t see any need to memorise numbers other than in relation to specific facts, such as the number of points that are associated with each meridian, and I already have mental pictures that give me those numbers, but there will probably be a few more numeric associations like that. However it’s probably wise that I prepare by building a list of 110 people as you suggest. I’ll have to pretty much build my own list from scratch. As an Australian I have no idea who most of the people are in the lists compiled by people from the USA, UK etc. I decided to start with the Major system as from what I’ve read it seems that it can be used as a base to combine with other systems. I’ve been giving some thought to using the Memory Palace system, but haven’t really committed to anything along those lines yet.

To give you an idea of the sort of information I need to commit to memory, here is a typical question/response from the oral part of my Kyusho exam:

Q. Describe the important features of the Bladder meridian.

A. Bladder is the 7th meridian and contains 67 points. It starts at the inner corner of the eye and ends at the corner of the nail on the lateral side of the small toe. [trace path] Element: water; polarity: Yang; striking action: grasping; stance: crane; colours: blue & black; diurnal cycle: 3pm-5pm.

I’m told the examiner really likes to have the information provided in exactly that order, for which I have the mnemonic EPSSCD = element polarity striking-action stance colours diurnal-cycle. Need to answer as above for each of the 12 meridians. Where I’ve written [trace path] above, we have to finger draw the path of the meridian on a human subject. I’m in the process of committing the meridian paths by rote memorisation, drawing them over and over again on images of body blanks.

That’s just an example of one part of the requirements – there’s a lot more to it than that of course.

Yes, I’ve read that post. No problem, glad to help. I think the term for chain would be linking. You could probably just use your own system instead of the major system to create those 110 people, with the added consonants, since you aren’t using other peoples Persons. But of course, choose whatever you think works best; major system is very easy to learn.

I get a bit confused by what you are learning. You seem to be getting help from other members in the linked post though. Good luck with your studies.

I see now that the server actually saved both my comments.

To clarify; you are using your own system to create pegs, but you want to learn major system to be able to memorize numbers?

In the end shouldn’t you have a picture that ALWAYS associates with a two digit number. I mean you only have to memorize 100 total. After about 20 hours practice you will be perfect. I always figured the major system was just a way of getting their quicker and not entirely relying on root memorization for recall. Like if you can remember the image in your head than you just have to work backwards to find the number. Code and key. Eventually though you just see “49” and think OH, thats rope.

I’m probably confusing the issue with my terminology.

I have no interest (at this stage anyway) in anything competitive, so I don’t have any use for systems for memorising vast arrays of numbers or decks of cards or similar. Though that may be an interesting personal challenge at some later date when I don’t have more pressing memorisation needs.

So I guess that means that I don’t really have a need for the Major System, but I persevered with it a bit further anyway, and started to compile a list of people 000-100.

I quickly decided that it didn’t sit well with me if I couldn’t see a direct relationship between the number, the associated consonants, and the person’s name. And I found that I could only make such a relationship with a very few names that meant anything to me. Yet if I use items (nouns) instead of names I could quickly compile a list, most of which I can recall at will without any learning. By using the first item that popped into my head for a given letter combination I find I can come up with that same item every time without any learning or effort. There’s only a very small number of combinations that were difficult and that I’ll have to memorise.

So I guess what I’ve really done is not build a Major System list at all, but instead have extended my peg system. Would that be a fair thing to say?

So considering the advice I had from others in the conversation referenced above, I guess I’m probably better off looking at a combination of pegs, linking and Memory Palace. I confess I’m procrastinating about the latter because I think if a lot of careful preparation went into it I could possibly link off the main loci in the Palace, almost ad infinitum, as I’m required to learn new information that is dependent on the loci item. If that makes any sense? Again, I’m not sure my terminology is correct.

I think I better go over and wade through the Method of Loci forum and see what I can pick up.

The forums seem to me pretty disorganized since all these techniques are connected. But you should read this, a great method for making huge palaces:


If I understand you correctly, that’s pretty much what I’ve done with my “pegs” list. With my list of nouns/items that are created directly from the consonants I can come up with a picture for any number up to 100 instantly. For me 49 is rg = rug. I used rug instead of say rag or rig because the first time I looked at the letter combination rg it was rug that popped immediately to mind. While a plain old rug is not very memorable by itself, I see a magic flying carpet.

Many thanks for the links. The MMP idea with micro-palaces is very interesting, though I think I need some more basic understanding of creating and using memory palaces before I tackle something like that. I have approached Gavino for advice.

I think gavino is really busy lately, from his comment on his post.

My first memory journey was from what I read in Moonwalking with Einstein. Because of remembering it whenever I think of the book, and because I haven’t used that palace for any other purpose, I still remember it. It was intended as an illustration of the technique from Ed Cooke to Josh Foer, a simple shopping list. A jar of garlic on the driveway, by the front door, some beautiful woman bathing in cottage cheese. You go inside, a lamp has socks on it, a piano has some type of fish or meat on it… etc.

The point is, this technique is pretty easy to use. When you keep reading and reading about it, it tends to over-complicate it. Its basically the link technique, which you’re familiar with, except instead of having to rote memorize those 100 objects or so, you access places that you are already familiar with, or you easily create new journeys. Our minds very quickly memorize spatial information, and it is with that, that you are combining new information. Without even noticing it, we memorize objects in a room, and how they relate to one another.

Just do it. You are not going to know everything, you won’t be able to predict how everything will work if you keep reading. This reminds me of Frances Yates’ Art of Memory; the author read tons of ancient texts about these techniques, but clearly made some mistakes when describing it, just because she never tried the techniques. They are really not that complicated or scary.

There really is no way to mess up badly here. Worst thing that can happen is you don’t remember a couple words.
Stop trying to control everything and just let go.

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow – George S. Patton

PS: You can, if you want, for practice memorize the history of the world.

Thanks for hanging in with me Patrick - I know it must be frustrating .

Yes, I did see that thread. BTW, it’s unfortunate that the movie Lance referenced is no longer available. I would have liked to have seen it as a matter of interest.


I understand where you’re coming from with your recommendation to “just do it”. Reading through my own posts even I can see that it looks like I’m procrastinating.

And I admit that I am. If my requirement was just a matter of remembering a whole bunch of “things”, either linked or pegged, that wouldn’t be a problem; I can do that. Your History of the World is basically just a list, and even I can see a few ways I could tackle that.

What I keep coming back to in my mind is that I have a dozen base things, being meridians, but that each of those is a placeholder for a lot of other “subset” information, some of which I don’t even know about yet. The subset information is structured the same for each meridian (EPSSCD), though the actual information itself varies.

What’s bending my head and preventing me from getting started is deciding:

  • 12 journeys, each with numerous stops for the subset information?
  • one journey with 12 stops + ?how? for the subset info?
  • one palace with 12 rooms with ?how? for the subset info?
  • 12 palaces with the subset info contained how ?
  • And I’m sure there are many other options.

If I don’t start with a method that allows for the ongoing inclusion of subset information directly related to each meridian then I’ll just be wasting my time even getting started.

I just don’t know enough yet to hazard a reasonable guess as to the most appropriate methods for such requirements.

No problem Soporose, I like helping people.

I would say, if there is a lot of information, use 12 palaces, each with at least 6 big rooms for the EPSSCD.
If you ever need to fit more information, use the mini palace method; make an image(in one of the big rooms) that leads you to an unconnected room that you can use to store more stuff.

Or an alternative that would also work, and would be a bit more organized. Make one palace with 12 rooms, and in each room have six(or more) mini memory palaces(rooms, journeys, etc) attached.

You can see the movie Lance referenced HERE. Sadly, all the copies of this movie on youtube are only an hour and 30 minutes now, and this is the best quality I could find. I don’t even use this movie to remember the last 5 thousand years or so, so it doesn’t affect me.

You mentioned a question earlier;
Q. Describe the important features of the Bladder meridian.

A. Bladder is the 7th meridian and contains 67 points. It starts at the inner corner of the eye and ends at the corner of the nail on the lateral side of the small toe. [trace path] Element: water; polarity: Yang; striking action: grasping; stance: crane; colours: blue & black; diurnal cycle: 3pm-5pm.

What else do you need to know about this meridian? How much info are we talking about?

Edit: What did you mean here?


Easiest way to understand creating and using memory palaces is to… create and use them. For the MMP, you put something that reminds you of the other memory palace, for example, if youre in a friends house, and want it to be connected to a park, pick the park bench you sit on most, or a distinctive tree. Tell me if you have any questions

Well, as we progress through the course more information will be provided to us relating to each meridian. I’ve already mentioned “sound” and “vertebrae” somewhere else, and “alarm points” is another one that will crop up later on. The addition of alarm points to the list of information on each meridian will take the form of, for example:

Mu Alarm Point: CV-3; Shu Alarm Point: BL-28;

I don’t want to confuse the issue by getting too specific. It might be better to just consider that we have a base item of a Meridian, and associated with each meridian is a string of discrete factoids that take the form XX=YYY. There’s a slight complexity in that for each meridian these factoids must be memorised in the same order, as per the EPSSCD mnemonic I mentioned earlier…

Here’s the difficulty with trying to anticipate ultimate requirements: This is a 5000 year old art and as you can imagine a considerable knowledge base has been amassed in that time. My teacher sticks to a fairly traditional form of the art, and much of the knowledge hasn’t even been translated into English. There is no textbook as such that I can look ahead and see what will be required in the next module or the one after that. Students of the art are led from simple to more and more complex according to a progression dictated by the teacher, and instruction is very much verbal, hands-on and person-to-person. So you see it’s impossible for me to know with any confidence what new “features” of each meridian will need to be added over time.

I understand that, but from what I’ve browsed on this website the actual structure of Palaces can vary considerably according to needs.

I can straightaway mentally construct a Palace of say 12 rooms, and assign a meridian to each one. It’s the next step that I’m hesitant about. What to do with all that ancillary information that directly relates to each meridian? Without knowing exactly how much of that information there will eventually be, how will I know if I’ve got enough identifiable locations in each room for the long term?

That’s what’s got me thinking about adjoining rooms or sub-palaces or whatever - how to “attach” all the factoids to each meridian.

What would be a better way to organize them?

I don’t believe there is. These are all interconnected. Lance, could you try to help Soporose?

Edit: Except maybe getting extremely specific. Complete PAO lists and help with construction, Creating memory palaces and related, Discussion of different systems(ben, major) etc.

I did not intend to criticize the layout, was just pointing Soporose to a post he might not have seen.