Loci Memory System


I have had a few curious questions regarding my “Loci” memory system that I use. I have mentioned it in a few places, and so I am thinking that it might be good to give a quick overview of what I do.

I learned my system from Ron White‘s course “Memory in a Month.” It did indeed take only a month to complete, and it did transform the way I memorized and remembered things in everyday life, homeschool, Scripture, and everywhere else. Mr. White’s methods do work, although they might not be for everyone (to a degree). They do not need extreme or even, really, above-average intelligence. All it is is a system that works.

Most people have an extremely hard time remembering even as short a list as ten or twenty objects. Now that might not seem short to you, but it will be when you understand how to work this system. To prove to you where you are in memory, ask a family member or a friend to secretly write down a list of about twenty objects (they are easiest). Then tell him to read them out to you slowly in order. Then when the person is done, try to repeat back to him the list in order. He should write them down as you go, not giving you any tips or hints or feedback until you are done. Then look at how much you got right. Five or six correct is really good.

For you to remember anything with Mr. White’s method that he developed from ancient techniques, you need three things: a code, a place, and an action. These can take various forms, and be used in various methods to memorize many different kinds of data. Let us take an example of memorizing a number. Lets do 1566307102, a ten digit number.

First you need to turn that number into a memorable set of images using a code. Then you are going to use a system of familiar places called files using memorable actions. Let me explain by demonstrating with one code, the Phonetic code, and one set of files, the Skeleton files. As you will see these two are very connected.

The Skeleton files consist of ten files, each with a unique name (these names are very important). They are: Top (the top of the head), Nose (that is rather self-explanatory), Mouth (that too), Ribs (the chest), Liver (your abdominal region, where your liver is located), Joint (where you bend, also known by non-memorizers as your hips), Cap (your patella, or your kneecap), Fibula (in your shin are two bones: your fibula and your tibia, the fibula is the important one for this), Ball (your foot has the ball of your foot, of course), and Sand (you are standing on it. Yes, it is not technically on your skeleton, but it makes ten, and it is important to do it this way. You will see why in a bit). If you will take the time to familiarize yourself with the Skeleton files, then you will be well on your way to being a memory whiz.

If you have familiarized yourself with those odd names of the Skeleton files, then you will have possibly noticed that each starts with a different sound. This is important, because that is the basis for the Phonetic code which is the greatest aid in memorizing numbers of any length (especially two-digit). Here is the code: 1 = T/D, 2 = N, 3 = M, 4 = R, 5 = L, 6 = J/SH/CH, 7 = K/G, 8 = F/V, 9 = B/P, 0 = S/Z. See the pattern? Each consonantal sound is directly connected to its equivalent Skeleton file! So familiarizing yourself with both ought to be really easy (and even if it isn’t, the effort pays off, trust me).

So now with these you can easily convert two-digit numbers into images this way: take the two-digit number (like the first two digits of our ten-digit number, 15) and think of a word whose consonants match the number’s correlating sounds. So 15 1,5 T,L Tail (or Tile, or Deal, etc.). Every two-digit number works like this, so it is easy to convert any number into a string of images based off of two-digit pairs. So here we go with our ten-digit number (1566307102): 15 = Tail, 66 = Judge, 30 = Mouse, 71 = Cat, 02 = Sun. now take those images and “file” them to your skeleton files with memorable action like this: Your hair turns into a bunch of scaly tails and wriggle all over the place; A judge gets so mad at you for defending your faith in the court that he throws his gavel at you and it hits you on the nose; You eat a mouse; A huge cat attacks you and scratches your chest really bad; You ate something that didn’t agree with your digestion and so it turns into a massive flaming ball like a sun in your stomach.

Now review those (if those particular ones are not very memorable for you, then you can recreate your own). Then go through them and undo them back into a ten-digit number. You should be able to now repeat that number backwards (just start at the end of the files and go backwards up to the top: it is just as easy that way as going forwards), forwards, and by number (what was the third pair? Mouse in Mouth = 30. The third number? The first number in the second pair: 6).

This system works best for memorizing numbers (which is in itself very useful), but the concept of images, places (Loci is Latin for places, so that is where the name comes from), and filing with action applies to everything. There are a lot of ways to do it, but what I have shown you can be used to experiment, practice with (it is Hard to practice, but who cares?), and expand. This system works really well for memorizing Scripture (especially if you are familiar with it) by the way.

I hope that that at least answers your questions, but if it doesn’t, feel free to ask more. But I do suggest that you get Ron White’s ‘Memory in a Month’ course. It is very helpful.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes


10 Responses

  1. This is Ron and I think you did a very good job of explaining the system. Keep up the good work 🙂
    Ron (the memory guy)

    • Ron,

      I am very honored that your presence should grace my blog! Thank you for your comment and encouragement: it is helpful. I must admit that I am not nearly as good as I should be at the systems that I learned from your courses, but I intend to begin practicing more. It is starting to become more useful with all of my activities. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to learn this very useful practice!

      With joy and peace in Christ,
      Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

  2. Well the number encoding system is the Major System. I have a trainer for that if you’re interested at http://www.remarkablemarbles.com/memory/encoding/major-system-trainer

    I may have missed something but I don’t see much advantage from having the body “loci” using the same letters. It only takes about ten minutes to learn the letter/digit mappings and about the same to learn a simple body peg list, or the number rhyme or shape peg lists. Leaving that limitation aside would allow a slightly longer body peg list.

    I assume this method is for temporary memorising? Committing another set of images against the ‘skeleton’ will interfere with the first set.

    • Adam,

      I looked over your website, and found it to be an invaluable resource and reference for my future studies. I already knew most (if not all) of the systems taught on your site from Ron White, but to learn an old skill again from a different teacher always increases comprehension. Thank you for your comment!

      I agree that it is not necessary to have the Skeleton files match the Major System, but that is how I learned it, and I found it a valuable aid. I used it here to aid in explanation and clarity. I do use a slightly longer Skeleton file system sometimes when I need it.

      I do use the Skeleton files for temporary memorization mostly, simply because it is the most familiar and handy. Its ten files is also handy. 🙂 I do have a few difficulties with interference every once in a while, but not as often as some might, I guess. I have used the same 50-file peg list for many many many lists in the last few years, and have not had hardly any problems with interference. But maybe I am unique in that respect. It is a good point to bring up, and I thank you for mentioning it.

      With joy and peace in Christ,
      Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

    • Thanks for the reply.

      Do you still use the peg list to recall the first items you used it for or have you learnt them to a degree that you no longer need the list?

      Another option of course is to combine another constant image for each list with your peg list item to create a unique composite trigger e.g. if you wanted to memorise the seven wonders of the ancient world you might combine a pyramid with each peg and then connect the items to be remembered to these combined pegs. This does of course make the visualisation more complicated for those who are not too good at visualisation (but it improves with practice like most skills).

      I always find it amazing how long these techniques have been about, and depressing that they are no longer taught in schools.

    • Adam,

      Thanks for another good comment! Yes, I do use the peg lists as I go through my memorized lists still, even though it is years since I memorized some of them. The images just come up with the memory and link it all together, keeping me in line.

      I do actually use that technique sometimes when it is needful. It does help, especially when memorizing Scripture.

      Your comment is very true. It is actually a tragic display of the fundamental goal of most schools nowadays: it is not to teach knowledge, not to teach how to learn, but to brainwash that they have schools. I hope that made sense. 🙂

  3. Being a huge fan of Harry lorayne – I never knew about Ron white’s material.

    I thought to give it a try for memory in a month course and I am still learning (Day 17). It is truly amazing, I like how Mr. Ron has put up the excellent ideas in audio pack.. (I am lazy to read)

    And I was lazy to implement memory techniques from the beginning (Never used to read a complete book) but later on realized the system’s power and have been going through the lectures step by step and excited to finish this up.

    Examples are amazing as well, great work from RON. And I can remember the digits here Emeth 😀 Well, the linking of image to files are indeed helpful and I hope in the future lessons I will be given a guide to retrieve them quickly because sometimes all the things are mixing up in my mind.

    Again great material and definitely worth a buy!

    • Sid,

      Ron White’s course is indeed very good. But it does not necessarily make memorizing easy: it simply makes it easier. The more work you put into it now, the easier it will be when you actually have to memorize something. Keep working hard! And thank you for the comment!

      With joy and peace in Christ,
      Sir Emeth Mimetes

  4. Great explanation. I too am using the ron white course. Could you explain how, when using the loci method, do you not mix up previous words you’ve placed in the various locations with the current list of words you want to remember?
    Do you need to “release” the previous list?

  5. Great blog and posts!
    I too have taken the Ron White memory in a month course. I started a long time ago with the Harry Lorrayne books.
    Would love to have your feedback on an online 10 lessons system I am currently building to help home schoolers.
    It uses audio, video, written, and graphics to help accelerate the learning process.
    The next lesson is the Skeleton files.
    And while I don’t use the Skeleton files as I use the Major System for practically everything, the Skeleton files are a great introduction to the Major System.
    Right now the site is http://www.memoryin30days.com but will be switching to http://www.UnLeashingYourMemory.com
    Look forward to your feedback and any ideas to improve it.

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