Memory Props

A number of organisations are replaying talks by me during the coronavirus challenge. This page is a ever-growing sample of the props I am using for memory experiments to accompany those talks. At the moment, it is just the images of the main mnemonic aids as these are needed immediately. There are more explanations on the Memory Experiments page. These are all described in full in Memory Craft. They derive from my research on the memory methods of Indigenous cultures as described in The Memory Code and my academic monograph, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies.

The lukasa I use for memorising the 412 birds of my state in family groups. Beads (or group of smaller beads) and shells represent families. Stories add details of identification, habitat and behaviour for each of the species in the family.

The newer lukasa based more closely on the real thing used by the Luba people of the Congo. I use this one for the history of writing.

Two pages of the Visual Alphabet – the entire alphabet is in Memory Craft and the booklet, The Bestiary and Visual Alphabet, below. I use this for lists – anything I need to remember in order and quickly. I use it for talks and for bird lists when out birding with my husband, Damian.

The Bestiary – a little book of my illustrations based on a medieval bestiary. I initially used it to memorise names, but it can be used for any words. I am using it constantly for names, but also for Chinese vocabulary and all sorts of incidental words. It includes the Visual Alphabet. It is available for the Mnemonic Arts Shop.

A sample of pages from The Bestiary.

I use characters for many purposes. I find dolls and bears particualrly good – but others use characters for many different domains. The general term for these characters is ‘rapscallions’. This is Rapscali and his creator, Suzanne McRae of Hip Hip Decay. Rapscali is the main character in the stories which make memorising multiplication tables easy.

Petit Professeur and Fleur are the rapscallions who help me make up stories for French vocabulary and ensure that I get the gender of the nouns correct.

These carved balls are based on the Scottish Neolithic carves stone balls. I use them for memorising ceremonial cycles and other information.

This is an Aboriginal coolamon – a decorated food dish where the decorations are used as a mnemonic device. I have a copy which I use for memorising habitats across the state of Victoria.

The motifs on this leather scroll start from the centre and work outwards. This ‘winter count’ is based on the Lakota winter counts and is used for the major event of every year from 1900. My new winter count is for my own life. It will appear here soon.

Alice Steel and son Haku with the winter count Alice is making to tell the story of her own life. Haku likes telling the stories.

I use the palms and backs of my hands to encode the science and history of astronomy.

I have memory boards in many forms. This one is just drawings and is used for the families, and in a few cases, species, of spiders. It is the eye patterns which distinguish spider families, hence all the eye patterns!

Sets of objects which are moved on their ‘stage’ to act out knowledge. These are used to memorise the gods and stories of ancient Greece and Rome.

Strings of beads representing information. This experiment os for studying Shakespeare’s plays. The top necklace represents all the plays. The lower one is the acts, scenes and characters in each scene for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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