The Memory Code is published

I have been overwhelmed, delighted and, I must admit, astonished by the reaction to the first few days of The Memory Code being released. Thank you to everyone who has written to me in response to the radio interviews. Here are two ABC interviews available online:

Conversations with Richard FidlerΒ (1 hour)

(c) ABC

Conversations with Richard Fidler is also available on Soundcloud.

Life Matters with Ellen FanningΒ (20 minutes)

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Author: lynne

I am an Honorary Researcher at LaTrobe University. I am the author of 19 books, the most recent being 'Spiders: learning to love them' (Allen & Unwin), 'Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies' (Cambridge University Press, 'The Memory Code' (Allen & Unwin, AUS; Pegasus Books, US and Atlantic Books, UK), 'Memory Craft' (Allen & Unwin, AUS; Pegasus Books, US) [and foreign translations, audio versions and so on]. My latest book is co-authored by Margo Neale. 'Songlines: the power and promise' and published by Thames & Hudson with the National Museum of Australia.

9 thoughts on “The Memory Code is published”

  1. Hi Lynne, I’ve just started chapter 2 and keep wriggling in my seat with excitement! What’s funny is that I’ve been immersed in a lot of new information and new insight lately, but none of it feels like I can write it out linearly. So far I’ve had to get A3 sheets and kind of mind map to make sense of it all. Months ago I was suddenly struck with the idea that the versions of indigenous stories that we get to see, usually as cartoons on ABC, are the baby-level ones, and it’s highly presumptuous of western societies to then frame indigenous stories as superstitious and childlike. And here you are echoing and fleshing out my thoughts. I’m getting ready to do an online course from the 8 Shields Institute about getting to know your backyard birds and bird language, and now I’m thinking that I can map what I learn as I go. Heck, might even make my house and garden a map of my life’s learning!! I love what Simon T has said above…I do craniosacral therapy, and the understanding of how traumatic experienced is held (you might say “mapped” in the body is revolutionising the field of trauma recovery. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s recent book is called “The Body Keeps the Score”…

    1. Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment, Hilary. You can’t imagine how lovely it is for an author to hear from a reader that their words resonate so strongly.

      Please let me know how you get on with the memory methods.

      You said” it’s highly presumptuous of western societies to then frame indigenous stories as superstitious and childlike.” I wish I had understood this many years ago. If you and I and others who think this way can get this message out to the world, we will have made a difference of great importance. That is my dream!

      Thank you again,


  2. Hello Lynne!

    I just read an article about your work, and I’m very excited! For several years now I have been contemplating and researching the connections between the classical “memory palace” techniques and the “songlines” of Indigenous Australians, and also the use of essentially the same techniques in Indian, Tibetan and Chinese spiritual traditions for storing information in the body itself, and the immediate space around the body – called “Nyasa” in Sanskrit. There are also very direct correlations with the current neuroscience of pain and especially chronic pain.

    I have a background in physical therapy and medical science (and anthropology, biology, and meditation), so I’ve been looking into the fundamental neuroscience involved: things like “place cells”, “grid cells”, “direction cells”; and the “maps” in the brain in which the inner processes of the body, the positions and movements of the muscles and joints, the skin, the area around the skin, the “peripersonal space” within reach of the arms and legs, the “extrapersonal space” reachable through walking or running, and the “ambient space” extending all around the body, are all represented. The way these maps all get linked up with different emotional states and memories through associative learning and neuroplasticity is all reasonably simple.

    So I’m very (really!) excited to hear about your research and your work! And I would love to know if you teach workshops, or if you would be interested in teaching workshops, in traditional mnemonic techniques? I know a lot of people would be interested, and I feel like it’s incredibly important work, something that needs to be brought back into our culture if we’re ever going to really feel at home. In my own work I am endeavouring to teach the story of the evolution of our species and of life on our planet, and to anchor this story in people’s experience of their body using movement, mimicry, dance, wrestling, primitive skills like fire making and foraging for edible plants, and other explorations which clearly highlight the anatomical and behavioural patterns that we share with other creatures.

    Sorry I’m starting to rant, but I am always on the lookout for other people doing research connected to my own, and you’re the first person I’ve come across who has made the connection between the classical memory palace techniques and ancestral abilities that seem like they were actually the norm once upon a time.

    I can’t wait to read your books and learn more, and please let me know about the possibility of workshops. I currently live in southeastern NSW, but would be very happy to travel.

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Simon,

      Thank you for such a fantastic email. I am very keen to respond, but I am away doing interviews and book signings at the moment. The response has been overwhelming and I am really tired.

      I will reply more fully when I get a chance. Please nag here if that is more than a few days! I am really excited by what you say and don’t want it to get lost in the deluge.

      Thank you again,


    2. Hi Simon,

      I am sorry that it has taken so long to get to replying again. The response to ‘The Memory Code’ has been overwhelming – it’s already been reprinted!

      I am really interested in what you say about “the use of essentially the same techniques in Indian, Tibetan and Chinese spiritual traditions” – can you point me to some references on this? I have sorely neglected Asian traditions and intend to rectify that soon. I have had a bit of a poke around after you write this but it is such a vast topic.

      I’ve only looked superficially at the neuroscience as well. Do you have a good reference for that?

      I am being asked about workshops a lot and haven’t thought it through much. I didn’t realise there would be a demand. I am doing a trial one in Castlemaine in August. Then I will think it through more. I have emerged from so long in effective isolation doing the PhD, Cambridge Uni Press book and now The Memory Code that I am not sure where I will go next. Nothing much will happen until I am back from the UK and US launches in February next year. Things are pretty full until then.

      The only other researcher I know who has made the link “the connection between the classical memory palace techniques and ancestral abilities that seem like they were actually the norm once upon a time” is David Abrams, “The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World” on Amazon:

      He’s a little less grounded in science than I am, but that is good!

      Your own work sounds really interesting and valuable. It is so good to know others are thinking the same way.

      Thank you for writing!


      1. Hello Lynne,

        Thanks for your replies. No worries about delays, I am offline a lot of the time these days myself so I just got back from some kids camps in the bush yesterday, and am off again tomorrow for more of the same.

        Yes I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in workshops! In fact I am very interested in the one in Castlemaine in August. It might be a stretch, but I’ll be passing through Victoria around then anyway. I would love to know some of the formulas used in the Indigenous place based memory techniques, and to start practicing them in some of the places I move through regularly.

        Nyasa is basically the practice of reciting mantras in combination with directed attention, posture, gesture and physical movements, to anchor particular mental or emotional states or concepts of divinity into the different parts of the body and the space around the body. Also performed to the four directions, the sun, moon and planets, constellations, sacred places and objects. Very much with the idea of treating the body as a landscape, and in some cases treating sacred landscapes as one’s own body. I’m not sure what the Tibetan term would be for it, but Tibetan traditions are full of similar practices. Chinese (Daoist) traditions are also full of similar practices, in which the body is deliberately filled up with gods and goddesses, sacred mountains and rivers, constellations, and sacred or cosmic principles – and of course the actual physical landscapes of China have been similarly filled with sacred principles and spiritual forces by the same people. The classical names of acupuncture points are a good example of this sort of thing in Chinese culture. I will have a look and try to find some particularly good resources!

        I read “The Spell of the Sensuous” some years ago, it instantly became one of my favourite books! But I’d forgotten that he noticed the similarities in the songlines and the memory palace technique. I should go back and reread it I guess.

        As for the neuroscience, I’d probably recommend Sandra Blakeslee’s book “The Body Has a Mind of Its Own” as the best place to start. I think you’ll get the picture straight away that the maps of the body, the different layers of the body, the space around the body and so on, are all essentially similar, and that associative memory works the same way in all of them.

        I was even reading something the other week about how grid cells have apparently been discovered to be highly active in the storage and retrieval of conceptual information, and that we may all be organising all sorts of information in our minds using our spatial senses!

        I ordered your book straight away when I wrote to you last week and was hoping to find it waiting for me when I got home yesterday, but the Book Depository site tells me that it is still awaiting publication πŸ™ so I guess I’ll have to wait until they sort that out.

        All the best with your tour and interviews!

        1. Hi Simon,

          Thank you again for such an interesting reply.

          The Castlemaine Workshop is booked out with a significant waiting list. After I have run that workshop I will then think about the next stage. I am getting such an overwhelming response to the publication of The Memory Code pointing me in so many directions, I am not sure where I will be going next, other than the publication of the academic essay I am currently writing. I am planning to go to the UK and US for the publication of the Memory Code for those publishers, plus have a lot of speaking engagements meanwhile. I have noted the references you suggest. Thank you. I am going to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York with an expert when I am there for the US launch, specifically to learn a great deal more about Tibetan practices. I am very keen to learn great deal more about Asian mnemonic traditions and apparently appropriate museum visits are being organised – but that will just be the start. I am getting a lot of emails and messages on that topic!

          Book Depository sold out rather quickly. It is not that they are awaiting publication – unless you ordered the US edition. My publisher tells me that they will be in stock again by tomorrow with the reprint. She suggests that you use this link to check the edition available to you now.

          Thank you again for your interest,


  3. The theory of The Memory Code is fantastic. Every now and then something comes along that is so brilliant that it is a game changer. As a retired Adult Literacy teacher I look forward to hearing that this method of memory making is incorporated into learning and teaching. If only I was still teaching….. I think it would revolutionize the field.

    For now I will be content to absorb the book and experiment with a list of Queensland birds.

    1. Hi Kayleen,

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment. As a teacher for forty years, I am convinced that there are huge implications for teaching. I only wish I’d known about it when I was in the classroom. I have already had a really encouraging talk with a teacher who specialized in dyslexia about how emphasizing methods which don’t prioritise the disability could work wonders through the impact on confidence and learning. I haven’t had time to think that through, but would love to see teachers run with it.

      As you create your mental field guide to the Queensland birds, I expect that you will start to relax and worry less about the sort of memorising that you are used to, and let the characters and stories start to do their own thing. Maybe you will be quicker at that than I was! I would love to hear if you found that your brain did start to work in different ways and if you can describe the difference. I struggle to do so. Then I’d love to know your opinion on the implications for special education and literacy studies. As a researcher obsessed with a topic, it is easy to imagine implications beyond the legitimate scope. I would dearly love to see this way of thinking – and more that our Aboriginal colleagues can teach us – having a role in the classroom.

      Thank you for your insight!


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