Miniature memory palaces - including your palm

At the time I was studying, nobody anywhere was much interested. It was considered a curiosity from days gone by. This is a bit strange now I think of it. Being a central text of such authority, every letter almost was milked for as much meaning as could be squeezed out. Just the fact that the mnemonic chose the points it did as a summary could be worth something.

There was great emphasis and social reward for mastery of the material and being facile with it, nobody was impressed with rote memorization. Indeed some did have great memories and could recall chunks of text but if you had to put effort into it, you’d probably get chided. Given the amount there was to learn, it seemed like a waste of time. I think a modern Law student would probably make the same judgement about his material. Unlike some Christians and many Muslims who put a lot of effort into just memorizing texts, I never saw anything like that in the Yeshivas.

And I’d hardly thought about it in almost 40 years until this post. The decision to write down the Talmud was made IIRC in about 600AD for fear that it would be lost otherwise, but as I say, this method of memorizing texts to build a library went on for another thousand years until the printing press. But by my time there was no trace of it in any of the study culture other than these cryptic little sequences on the page.

I do wonder now that you ask. And if that existed, it seems likely there would have been other memory devices too. Mebbe I can dig something up.

Hi Elitely,

I am delighted to hear that you can visualise the lukasa easily. I am still constantly surprised by how well it works, and that ease of visualising it is part of the reason, I am sure. And it becomes so precious!


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Thank you for saying such lovely things, Mnt-Writer. I am so pleased that the ideas in The Memory Code have created interest for you and your colleagues. I love the realisation that “It takes a framework to hold and structure knowledge” - that is so critical to my ideas but have never expressed ti like that. I should! And thank you for the pointers to Sloman & Fernbach as well as Temple Grandin. They are all new to me. So much interesting stuff to follow up on.

As for generic or specific images, my husband doesn’t have aphantasia and I quizzed him - his images are all generic.

I would be fascinated by anything that you can dig up, zvuv.

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Well I did find some results on that. I posted them here for a couple of days. Not really comfortable leaving that stuff up for longer.

I only got the notification of the post yesterday. But I also had over 100 responses in emails, comments and messages, to a post I made on my blog about using Bruegel to memorise a course in classical music. So I am really struggling to work through them.

I have everything you posted in the email notification and greatly appreciate it.

Why not use “Grid Technique” to put items in the picture to be memorized…!

If I want to use an image for ‘loci’,I just use the Grid Technique after I have familiarized myself with the image. I feel,it is the fastest way to use an image for storing/encoding memory.

For example,in the image of Monalisa below,I created a 3x3 grid. I put my items in each grid/square. And I can get 9 ‘loci’ like that instantly. I can put this image of Monalisa on the wall of my Memory Palace room. I can put other images on the wall with Monalisa,and each one will give me 9 loci. If I put four images on four walls of the room of my Memory Palace,then,I will get 36 loci(very fast)

Just my way…I use Grid extensively. And it is time consuming to find out and memorize the ‘loci’ in an image. So,I feel,Grid technique may be the fastest(and more effective) way to do things! :slight_smile:


I like this idea a lot, although I’d have to vary the number of loci within any individual grid. For example, on her face, I can see at least 6 loci—the left and right parts of her hair, both eyes, nose, mouth—but in grid #9 I’m not sure I’d come up with more than 1 (the crook of her arm).

Of course, the minute I have varying numbers of locations from grid to grid, the more challenging it becomes to remember the path through the painting.



Brilliant! Is the grid, basically a generalization, or would you physically add a grid to the painting itself?

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I don’t add anything physically to the image. I just trained myself to visualize images or walls of a memory palace by using grids. It is just a way of organizing data. And I found it is very fast to store data in grids. Because your brain knows the grid pattern very well already. And it knows,how many locations are there in the image. So,it is very easy and fast for the brain to recall the data from each grid/square. It is not recommended to use more than 3x3 grid. The lower,the better! I usually use 3x3 grid though. There are different combinations of grid…ie,2x2…2x3…!

I used it to memorize all numbers of Dominic system. It took only two rooms to put all numbers of Dominic system using grids…

The “Grid technique” used to be used in the middle ages by the mnemonists of that time a lot. It is an age old technique!


Not sure whether you had this in mind, but this is a common way to structure a painting. The grid might not be uniform but it’s probably there in the painting.


Hi, Elitely. Thank you for the suggestion! This is very interesting!
I like your grid idea. It’s very orderly and could be consistently applied. That’s a great reason to adopt it.

Looking at my knucklebone players, I wonder if a spiral could also be possible, could be imposed on the image, and could be consistently applied. What do you think?
I feel the women’s skirts in this image suggest a circle or spiral, not a grid. At the center is the hand of the one in blue. When I create loci in rooms, I usually go around the room, and from top to bottom. The process feels like a circle to me more than a grid.
By starting at the outside, with the basket at the center, and going clockwise around, I feel I am working my way to the hand in the center. It feels more logical to me for this image. The scene culminates at the hand. And I can make the bone in the air the fifth spot, the hand the tenth.
Maybe some paintings will work better with the grid, some with the spiral, and we’ll have two types. Is that possible?

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What fascinating ideas! Grids are medieval techniques, but I haven’t thought to use them in this way. I had thought more of doing the grid and then adding images to each rectangle. It is so common to remember where on a page you read something you are looking for, so the brain seems to grid things naturally. I must try gridding in this way.

I can see the logic of using a grid for many paintings, but I wonder if it is appropriate for Bruegel’s Children’s Games. The 80 games seem to form a natural set of locations.

I have decided to encode a course in classical music to the painting. I found a list of the supposedly 100 greatest classical composers and asked my social network friends to reduce it to 80 by eliminating those who I don’t need. They eliminated and added and I have ended up with more than I started with!

Now to start listening and encoding.


I believe this is a classical “triangle” composition. The red hat forms the apex. The behinds of both women forming the base. And it may have been a sly joke.

Composition usually tries to form some closed path of interest that keeps your eye on the picture as it roams

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Hi,I think,all types of ‘shapes and patterns’ can be used…spiral,triangle,square,rectangle,circle……Whatever you are comfortable with! If you check out the literatures of the medieval age,you would see they(the mnemonists) used different types of shapes on images or walls.

But you need to have a ‘consistent’ pattern that your brain is ‘used to’ or comfortable with. For example, I consistently use ‘3x3’ square pattern. So,without any stress or worry,I can instantly see ‘nine loci’ on a Wall of a room or on an image! I like ‘square’ patterns and the ‘nine number’. So,I keep using them all the time :slight_smile:



You provide so much content here, I feel guilty asking for more, but I will. :slight_smile: I’d love to read a step-by-step walkthrough of what information you decided to store and how you’re actually encoding it to the painting(s). While I enjoy classical music, I’m really a rock/pop guy and have thought about what/how I might memorize information related to that music from the last 60 years or so. I’d be happy to follow your example once you’ve cleared the path… :wink:



Hi Bob,

I am being asked for the same from people on various social media who have been refining my initial list of composers to what is nearly the final list. I will blog the process once I get started which should be a week or so. I have a blog post to do first because my Bestiary for memorising names has finally come back from the printer and is on Amazon, so I need to blog about that and point people to it.

The following post will be on Bruegel and classical music. Of course, it may not work - all my experiments are just experiments. So far only two have defeated me completely - when I tried to copy the Yoruba method for memorising hundreds of stories using tosses of 16 cowrie shells, and also when trying to copy indigenous astronomy. I may return to them one day! But I am pretty sure Bruegel/music will work well.

So give me a week or two and then ask again if I haven’t said anything here. It will be a reminder not nagging!



This thread keeps on being extremely inspiring! :slight_smile:

After reading about the initial ideas here about miniature memory palaces I tried memorizing all the 75 wild mammal species of Sweden using a horse as the memory palace. I think I never made a journey so quickly before. :slight_smile: And it seems to stick very well. Also it feels nice to have it all gathered “in one place”.

Yesterday I tried to take it a step further, putting all 45 presidents of the US on one apple. That also worked flawlessly and felt really cool! :smiley:


I’m curious: How did you find enough distinct features on an apple to make it usable as a memory palace?


Well, it may be considered cheating since I added a few small features. Typical apple-features though!

The first ten are just on the stem. To that I have added a leaf for variation. I think that the key is just imagining that you are very, very small, so that every little feature becomes really clear.

I made use of the classic “apple sticker” as well for four of the presidents and then I added an apple worm and a bite in the apple for some variation.

So I still believe that you need lots of variation for a good memory journey, but that variation seems to be possible to find/invent also in seemingly rather “variation-less” objects. :slight_smile:


With your horse and apple, I am amazed how creative you are, Snillsparv. I am not surprised how effective you find them. This is fun!