The Tarot Memory Palace

Lately, my husband has been somewhat passionate about improving his memory, and has been working on practicing some different memory techniques. We learned about this method called the memory palace from a TED talk by Joshua Foer (and I even found a random article on the topic in a copy of National Geographic I was browsing for collage images, so I ripped it out and brought it home to him). He’s been building various memory palaces and trying to find valuable lists of information to memorize.

So, what is a memory palace?

“…imagine you’re walking through a place you know well and make a connection between the point you want to make and the items you see. He gives the example of a presentation on technology.

Say, you first want to talk about Apple. You may imagine stepping inside your house and seeing a bowl of apples on the table. If the next thing you want to talk about is rapid change, perhaps you imagine a clock above the bowl of apples that’s spinning fast. When you begin your speech, you step back into your memory palace and visualize these cues, allowing them to guide you through your presentation.”

Dan Roam, author of Show and Tell

A month or so ago, my husband been working on improving his main memory palace and was asking if I had any suggestions for things to memorize. I asked how many spots he had, and he said 22. So, naturally, I suggested that he learn the Major Arcana of the tarot, and he agreed! I listed out each card, and he stored them in his memory palace one by one. Then he immediately repeated all 22 of them back to me. This was impressive enough, considering it’s taken me a long time to remember which card is which number, and I have some friends who’ve been reading for over a decade and still can’t remember.

But that’s just the beginning!

I then suggested we go back and have him remember simple meanings/keywords with the Major Arcana, so we did, and he remembered them easily (!!!). And since we were on such a roll, he wanted to go ahead and do all of the Minor Arcana, too. We went through each suit, had him repeat them back to me, then went on the to next.

By the end of it, I had him list out every single card, along with its “traditional” meaning, which he did with only one or two cards that tripped him up. YOU GUYS, this all happened in a stretch of about two hours. For the next couple of weeks, I would randomly ask him to list them for me, and he always did it with very minor trouble (if any)!

I was astounded.

Since then, I’ve been having fun talking about tarot with him. Sometimes he’ll ask me about a specific card and its reversed meaning, or want clarification about a card’s meaning. (Previously, he was curious-to-moderately-interested in my tarot adventures, but never really wanted to interact with the cards — as a reader or a querent; so this is an exciting development for me.)

What I find really encouraging is that his intuition is playing a larger role in the whole thing than I think he realizes. Some cards he repeatedly intuits as a different meaning than the “traditional” one, but it’s still RIGHT ON, and I love it (this frustrates him, but I keep trying to explain to him that we each may have our own relationships with the cards and our own intuitive meanings… I think he’s coming around to this idea).

He is so good at it, that it continues to impress me. I plan to blog about this in my next post, but the other night I did a personal reading, and asked him for his impressions after I’d written down my own. Here’s a snippet:

"Things will improve with practical, steady application." | The Star, Cheimonette Tarot | Queen of Keys, The New Tarot

“Things will improve with practical, steady application.” (The Star, Cheimonette Tarot | Queen of Keys, The New Tarot)

And a bonus? All of this practice has helped ME improve my intuitions and meanings of the cards!

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5 thoughts on “The Tarot Memory Palace

  1. Pingback: Learning Tarot with the Art of Memory | Arnemancy

    • I was SO excited to see how well it worked for him, and I was extremely impressed that it opened up his intuition so easily! It’s really cool the way that we all come to the tarot in different ways. :)

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