Jun 03

Supercharging Your Memory Palace, New Palaces & Connecting the Labyrinths Within…

UPDATE: I am honored beyond belief due to Mark Gatiss‘ reply to my tweeting this article via Twitter!
Seriously, I nearly dropped the glass out of my hand. No, Thank you, Mark.



Note: This is not an article for anyone ‘pretending’ to have a Mind Palace like Sherlock Holmes. However it is for those who have, or intend to have a real Memory Palace, very much like the ones portrayed in Hannibal & Sherlock. There have been droves of blog posts pop up since the BBC’s The Hound of Baskerville regarding the Memory or ‘Mind’ Palace techinque. While many of them are wonderful and are sparking interesting in the method, a vast majority of them are nothing more than people who are applying ‘visualization’ to their already good or bad memory, and feeling like they have somehow developed an incidental or automatic ‘Mind Palace’ a la Sherlock.


libertyAs a Mentalist I’m sorry to say that while I wish it was indeed that way, it isn’t. We didn’t know how to fight after watching the ‘Karate Kid’ for the first time, well some of us thought we could and found out differently very quickly. But I digress…


For the record, while the ‘Memory Palace’ method is never mentioned in the show, CBS Criminal Minds character Dr. Spencer Reid consistently has holographic memory sequences very much like Sherlock in Hounds. It is truly my favorite part of the show, and one of the only shows I watch at all. I stick with my documentaries.


Now, let’s take the Memory; or Mind Palace to the next level and give it some serious attention. With very little effort and a reasonable amount of practice you will not only be expanding the Memory Palace you currently have; You will start creating new ones instantly out of some very curious and familiar places. In the end you’ll find splendid ways to link them together into visually labyrinth like mental journeys. Let’s take a journey now in fact.


While I undoubtedly ADORE the manner in which Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss approached showing the home viewer Benedict Cumberbatch’s mental thought process; as well as the scenes of Dr. Reid I mentioned earlier; in real life it is just as amazing, yet much faster and far less holographically digital. It is much rather an extreme trip down your imagination to places you’ve been and have adapted to store things. Trust me, it is every bit as exciting as the BBC portrayed it. I personally wouldn’t have changed a thing. They did a incredible job of transmitting the right message as to what the Palace can accomplish.


I’m assuming most of you have read my recent post The Memory Palace – From Sherlock Holmes to Designing Your Own.” If you in fact have not, or do not already have a pre-existing Memory Palace via the method of loci, then please read that first. In this article I’m going to take a deeper look down the rabbit hole that is the Memory, or Mind Palace. Show you how to create altogeter new palaces, combine palaces in a very interesting labyrinth way I developed some time ago, as well as how to convert many fictional and non fictional locations you ALREADY have memorized, into memory palaces themselves. Get some coffee or tea, take a quick walk back through whatever existing Memory Palace you currently use, then read further…

Why would you need more than one Memory Palace?

Some people are fine with memorizing a grocery list, some of us like to take things deeper than that. Some of you only need to create more ‘pegs’ to objects within your current memory palace while some of you will be ready to develop new palaces and link them together to form this labyrinth of instant access to vast amounts of information. Whether you want to memorize vast amounts of information for school exams, figures and stats for your job, maps all the way to super human math systems; or just remember the playing cards that have been played in a game, at some point you’re going to want to dive into your memories and expand your palace and create new ones for specific purposes. Let us begin that process now.

Every new palace should have you taking notes. The written word seals the deal.

Every single time you create a new Memory Palace the best thing to do is to write it down immediately. Even though we will almost always use a location we already have sealed in our memory, writing it down and mapping it out when you first decide to ‘induct’ it as a Memory Palace, is an often overlooked step. If you can, draw it to the finest detail. Artistic or not, write down the name of each palace, and the rooms therein. Name/map every inch.

The First Source of Memory Palaces: The places and locations where you have lived.

As some of you know by now a Memory Palace is almost always a place you have literally lived, or been to frequently. Yet you can easily include routes you know well, paths you’ve taken often, the levels of a video game you know backward and forwards, even a journey through a comic book you have memorized, having adapted the stories journey to the mental walk technique. The possibilities of places from which to create your first set of Memory Palaces is literally endless.

The first and foremost Memory Palace we all create is the home we know the best, or have lived at the longest. Secondary Memory Palaces can be created out of the school you remember/know so well, the layout of your current or most memorable job environment. Then additionally we tend to add all the routes, walks or drives to and from these places as seperate Palaces themselves. Since a Memory Palace does not have to a be in the form of a building, and in it’s Greek origin is described as a ‘mental walk’ we can start to map these ‘walks’ out of many places, routes and routines we already have firmly ingrained into our Memory.
These are the first and best choices mainly because they require so very little effort to picture them clearly in your mind. While it may seem like these are the ones you don’t need to write down. You will want to do this, it will prove extremely advantageous later to have a list and overview of your current palaces when you decided to combine many of them into super ‘labyrinth’ like palaces…

Further Down the Rabbit Hole. An endless wealth of pre-existing Palaces…

This next source of Palaces I like to call “Palaces through Proxy.” Stepping outside of your immediate world for more Palaces. This includes a home of a friend you can mentally walk through without issue, a video game that you once loved and can still walk through each level with your eyes closed.

Consider a photograph or painting that you adore or have memorized perfectly. Just by defining a starting and ending point in the painting as well as defining a clear route from each point of significance (peg), to he next, you will have successfully turned a already known painting into a Palace in and of itself. Hang this painting inside a Memory Palace you’ve already made if you didn’t retrieve it from one in the first place. Consider the embedding.

Hopefully by now you can see that since the method of loci is literally a mental walk through a known place/route, you can literally start creating multiple palaces with ease. Creating enough pegs in each palace and combining them is another story.

Memory Pegs: The backbone of EVERY Memory Palace. Expand & Define your Pegs.

In the first lesson “The Memory Palace – From Sherlock Holmes to Designing Your Own” we learned how to create our first Memory Palace and the meaning of pegs and pegging through vivid and absurd associations. For those of you that missed that I will summarize it briefly but do go back and read the aforementioned post. It will serve you well to know exactly what we’re talking about as we move forward with some more technical terms, concepts and jargon.

Pegs are nothing more than stationary objects that reside in your Memory Palace or mental walk. In the scenario Shaker Peg 002d_3of a ‘house’ palace then everything inside the house that you pass along your predetermined mental walk through it can and very well should become a memory peg.

At first I started like many of us do. A basic Memory Palace that I use to this day, the home I grew up in. At first each one of the five rooms was a peg by itself, meaning I only had to attach a desired thing to remember to a particular room, which is not a hard task. However remembering all fifty of the United States or your countries equivalent would become problematic quickly. The same applies to a Memory Palace created from a walk, journey, road trip, etc…

Then next evolution in ANY memory palace is the adding of addition pegs. From five pegs per room all the way up to 50 pegs per room depending on how extensive those rooms are. My childhood home’s palace has twenty pegs per room, I find the need to add more than that is almost always actually the need to create an altogether new memory palace. Pegs are created by first mapping out your route through the new Memory Palace.

You must set this in stone and every time you close your eyes you must walk through your palace in the exact same footsteps. This is why keeping notes of your palaces is such an extremely recommended habit. Once you have your path completely down, you then create ‘pegs’ out of every stationary object you pass along the way during your mental walk through the palace. Start one room at at time, step into the room and slowly scan the room with your eyes from left to right. Create five, ten or twenty pegs based on what you see. Map this out perfectly and you will be on your way to the foundation of a extremely strong Memory Palace.

If you are using a walk perhaps for a certain Memory Palace, then take the walk in real life or inside your mind and do the same thing. Note every significant thing you pass from start to finish. Write these down further sealing your new pegs into memory. Hopefully now you’ve fully grasped the concept of adding pegs to your Memory Palace.

Pegging for more: How to firmly attach anything to pegs in your Memory Palace.

One word… Absurd. Yet it is THEE most crucial step to a successful Memory Palace and no information will stand the test of memory if this is not taken quite seriously. Yes that’s right, take the absurd seriously. Scientifically it’s hundreds of times easier to store something into long term memory if you create a ridiculous, absurd or bizarre picture out of it. THIS part IS holographic, you will need to use your imagination more than ever here.

Oddly this is the very step most people glaze over. The feel very deep and then find it suiting to skip over the ‘silly’ part; not realizing they have just missed the key element that if you lack, undermines the entire foundation of your Memory Palace. I’ll go over a brief example before moving on.

Let’s assume your Memory Palace is your childhood home and the first room you come to is the television room. You’ve decided to create five pegs in each room for now so you have five places in this room to peg or attach information to. Let us pretend for now that scanning from left to right you’ve chosen in order:

Ugly Fake Plant…Coffee Table…Television…Couch….Stairs.  Those being the five you’ve chosen.

Now let’s say you need to remember five things right now, it’s NOT good enough to just place each item next to, or on top of each peg. It just does not work that way. You have to make VIVID absurd images, every time. In this example let’s say your list of things to remember is:

Helicopter…Phone…Soda… Giraffe… Astronaut.

010502-F-1740G-002Now you instantly form an absurd image to attach ‘Helicopter’ to your first peg ‘ugly fake plant.” In this case I see a toy remote control helicopter flying into that fake plastic tree and shredding it, the leaves are flying everywhere. You can go on and connect the remaining four yourself remembering always to make the images vivid and absurd. Mark my works that if you truly do this, you’ll still have that list memorized weeks, months if not years from now. Just from following along this example, if you did so in a vivid and serious way. If I were to ring you tomorrow and say “What was the first item on the list?” your thought process should go something like this:

“First item on the list, okay, going inside Memory Palace; first room, first object on the left is the ugly fake plant.” INSTANTLY you would see that plant in your mind and the ABSURD animated image of the helicopter shredding the plant would be given to you almost instantly. This is where the power of the absurd connections prevail, in the recalling of the information/data. People skip it as a step, then wonder why their Palace never delivers the results. The same result would have been true for any item on the list. Not only that but this method of loci enables you to recall information in and out of order. With the same speed and accuracy, something not often achieved when memorizing  things with a ‘brute force’ method. This becomes extremely invaluable when you need to remember the information in reverse.

The way we generally remember things, lists etc. We get absolutely dumbfounded when we have to perform the same mental task in reverse. Like saying your alphabet backwards, unless you’ve made a point to memorize it that way it is almost always a slippery task. The Mind Palace, Memory Palace or Method of Loci resolves all these problems by storing the information in the peg system manner. If I said “helicopter” it wouldn’t take seconds for your brain to come back with ugly fake of plant. This is especially useful when we’re not dealing with such arbitrary information.

For the sake of examples however, simple objects and lists get the job of learning done. You can apply this method to any kind of information. As long as you can convert whatever item you need to memorize into an image, you can peg it to something in your Memory Palace with an absurd visual. Most everything can be reduced to an image to represent it. One of the only exceptions generally being numbers. Numbers need to be covered into sounds and then words in order to be filed away in your Palace. This is achieved with ‘Phonetic Encoding‘ which I will be covering in a subsequent article later this week. We have a one more section left to go, exploring the Labyrinth method as I call it, connecting your palaces in a curios way. Don’t forget to subscribe at the top right hand of this blog to be notified of aforementioned subsequent post(s) to come.

Connecting the Labyrinths Within…

8447_7a8fd85650fca3266c9881f0c96c15e8_bfc0cfcfb107824f92055cd0b2169b27Filling your Mind Palace is one thing. However ‘Sherlock’ couldn’t have sorted through droves of interconnected webs of information by using a few Memory Palaces. This requires the connecting or stacking of separate palaces to or atop each other. I’ve never been particularly fond of the stacking method and won’t take the time to cover it here. I don’t use it, I find the following way to be more efficient and holographic. So i stick with what works.

How many of us have seen a movie or those of you that play video games may relate as well, where a door is opened yet instead of what should be behind the door lies a completely different world or universe? Any true science fiction fan has seen this scenario take place. I suspect Whovians (google it America) will have a vast array of memories and flashbacks to rely upon. Yet I digress. (Hogwarts staircase anyone?)

For now let us just say we are working with two Memory Palaces:

  1. Your childhood home in which you’ve created as many pegs in as many rooms and hallways as you want.
  2. The route you take to work everyday having created pegs for every significant sight on the journey.

Two connect the two Memory Palaces you build upon your primary palace. This will be generally your first but always your most extensive and used palace. Now you find some place in this palace this is NOT a peg in any way. I usually do not turn closets into rooms in my primary Memory Palace for this reason as you will see.

Taking the closet for example, You would connect that closet door in your palace to the very beginning of your second Memory Palace, the route to work. This is not just a decision you merely make cognitively it is again something you must now twist into an absurd vivid image. These ‘labyrinth like portals are fun to make.

See yourself opening that closet door and every time you do you’re INSTANTANEOUSLY materialized in your car on the way to work. You have just stepped out of one Memory Palace directly into another. This example was extremely basic and you will come up with new and absolutely insane ways to connect your labyrinths within.

Think of a mirror… I have one mirror in the hallway of my primary Memory Palace that whenever I look into it, suddenly it magically causes me to change places with my other identity, who is, in fact, in a completely different house altogether. Another house I once lived in for a long time and is now a solid Memory Palace. How would you go about creating portals inside your Palaces to create a labyrinth of possibilities?  Well you get to do it and it is an exciting and thrilling ride with mind altering results.

I hope you enjoyed this in depth look at supercharging your memory palace, creating additional palaces and connecting the labyrinths within. In the next series we will delve further into the methods in which numbers can be phonetically encoded and we will learn to see playing cards as distinct words and images lending themselves to be stored in your Palace instantly, during a live game as well as many other exciting techniques!

Your comments are welcome as always! Thanks for your support.

Mentalist & Consultant Joe Riggs


About the author

Joe Riggs

"For the past 15 years, internationally acclaimed Mentalist, Deductionist, Writer, Lecturer, and Consultant Joe Riggs has been captivating clients with his indispensable insights and enthralling audiences with his own singular style of cutting edge psychological entertainment. Picture Sherlock Holmes meets Patrick Jane and you’ll begin to get an idea of the non-fictional phenomenon that is Joe Riggs. At just 35 years old, his incredibly versatile areas of expertise include: advanced deductive and inductive reasoning, speed reading people, nonverbal communication, uncanny mastery of human behavior, and various forms of suggestion — not to mention his eidetic memory — all of which culminate into a psychological tapestry that most can only perceive as mind reading... but it's not minds Joe reads, it's people..."

  • Palace lover

    Hi everyone! I wonder if there are any games or funny activities I can do in my memory palace. You know, my field of study at my university is not very “brain chalenging” and so I looooove to memorize thing in my mind palace, for example all world history of philosophers in the world. But I NEED to excersise it and I do not want to memorize non-important stuff..
    Thanks for your advice…;)

  • sniper wolvez

    Hi, I’m new to this Mind Palace. I want to ask about this “portal”, can I have more than one Portal for each Mind Palace?
    or is it better to just have one Portal for each Mind Palace?
    Sorry for my English.

    Thank You

  • sniper wolvez

    Hi, I’m new to this Mind Palace. I want to ask about this “portal”, can I have more than one Portal for each Mind Palace?
    or is it better to just have one Portal for each Mind Palace?
    Sorry for my English.

    Thank You

  • Emily

    Does anyone have any advice on how best to remember sentences in your mind palace? I have tried to store a few short sentences for revision purposes, but it doesn’t work. Any advice would be a godsend!

  • hchint66

    Wonderful article. Thanks a million! One thing that seems to be missing in all discussions of the Memory Palace method, however, is some guideline how to turn abstract concepts or words that don’t lend themselves to easy association into vivid images. How, for example, would one turn “tomorrow”, “income tax” or a list of strange sounding Finnish words like “hyödytön” into easily accessible imagery?

  • Justin

    What I find annoying is how misleading the method of loci can be. It’s easy for a short list of things, especially if one is using one’s home only. And it’s especially easy if one has to recall information learned only one day prior. But even if one creates a memory palace of say 100 slots and attaches 100, say, Korean words and all the corresponding senses in English, whether one will remember such in another two years after not having used that information… and whether one will be able to access it using the same memory palace after that same amount of time are two entirely different questions. I have found that to memorize a lot of unfamiliar information using the method of loci it takes a lot longer than simply repeating the information. The difference is that most people don’t memorize information that they won’t immediately start using, which is where they actually memorize it. Try what I said and you’ll see. The method of loci is a great short term memory solution, but the only long term response is use. And as far as I can tell, there is no real way to remember hundreds of loci images and have them serve us after several years of not having been used. If one tries to remember them after that long, even if they were repeated more than 50 times each, they’ll not retrive the meaning attached to them.

    • Think-twice

      can you remember 100 of unrelated things as fast with repetition as you do with Loci? and to further make you think, can you recall those things better than you can do with the method of loci after 2 years without ever repeating them post initial learning for the first time? In my opinion any memory fades if unused.

  • Lenny

    Hi, great site, I love my Mind Palace, but putting stuff in it usually takes a little while. How can I speed up this progress so I can use it in, say, card games?
    Thanks and all the best,

  • Paul Mason


    Love your site, I have a question as I am just starting out with memory palaces.
    Okay I have memorised the 37 plays of Shakespeare by taking a route from my bedroom to the theatre in my town. I have linked places along the route to the plays so the bedroom with one play and the landing with another the bathroom with another and so on each with a ridiculous scenario to remind me of the play.

    My question is if I want to keep the plays to memory should I use the same route but with a different story to memorise something else or not use the is route again?

    If I can’t use the route again does that mean never to use the bathroom for anything other than the Shakespeare reference.

    • Radd

      Hi Paul, I use memory palaces so I’ll give you my advice.

      Re-using pegs for new images can be a bad thing. Unless you can go through the plays by memory WITHOUT using that palace to recall the list, I say don’t remove the images from those pegs.

      It can be confusing to wipe old images and replace them with new ones to store new information. Even if you don’t wipe them from the pegs/loci, you will get what I call “fossils” of the old images bugging you. (Remember that fake plant in the tv room? Well, on one hand, you have the helicopter shredding through it, but now you’ve also got a big cello sawing through the stalk! Which one is the correct mnemonic for this particular situation?)

      Even though you may be able to store multiple images at a single place, the point of a memory palace is to spend a small amount of mental energy recalling that image. Let’s say you use the same 37-place path for 100 lists, eventually. You’ll have 100 images at each point. It’s not ideal. You may be able to remember, say, 7 per point, but when recalling the info for that place you’ll see all 7 images and you’ll have to sort through them to get what you need. Of course this small list can then be used as its own palace, placing loci on the images themselves, but really it’s not such a good idea to reuse the same place for new lists.

      I hope I’ve made myself clear. That was longer than I intended it to be! :)

  • http://erikvanmechelen.com Erik

    I appreciate the attention you put into this post and am curious if I may ping you about linking it in a book on speed cards I just wrote.

    • http://www.TheWorldOfJoeRiggs.com Joe Riggs

      Sure thing man, let me know!

  • Pingback: How To Study Like A Boss | Try To Learn More()

  • Pingback: The Memory Palace - From Sherlock Holmes to Designing Your Own...()