The (Un)Familiar Nemesis

Nemesis/Rhamnousia (Greek Mythology) Goddess of Divine Retribution, Vengeance, Revenge and Balance. Image taken from the Superpower Wiki:

What if your biggest challenger in this lifetime is a close family member? Or if you are a powerful witch, then chances are that your mother is one too. And what can you do when you suddenly realize she might’ve energetically worked against you for most of your life? Or that your father is the catalyst to your own personal painful transformation? Get revenge? Become desperate? Give in to despondency? No, the spiritual task at hand is to become stronger than your parent, and like Ouranos who rebelled against savage Saturn, liberate yourself from the oppressive energy of what I call ‘a familiar nemesis‘. I think this topic is timely under the current Saturn transit through the constellation of Aquarius (ruled by Uranus).

Uranian energy in your birth-chart talks about liberation from opprevise forces. It’s a self-started process that happens when you awareness shifts, and when you get an insight that helps you see reality in a completely different light (almost as if someone changed the radio channel and you find yourself listening to a different frequency). The liberation process is not linear and orderly: it involves many back-and-forth steps, wherein your own self-love will be tested as well as you capacity to quickly identify and respond to self-sabotaging patterns. You will doubt and change your mind many times (and this capacity to constantly doubt and think of a different way to approach a situation, is what makes Aquarians such excellent researchers and scientists).

Combing back to the topic of dealing with familiar nemesis, the liberation process can feel emotionally harrowing so you’ll need to learn how to compartmentalize parts of yourself, before the process completes and you will whole again. One of these first steps is becoming aware of the occult underpinnings of your relationship to your parent. Is your parent in some way attracted to the occult? Linked to prayer, religion and spirituality? Do they like to keep secrets, hide things away from you and only reveal parts of such secrets at specific moments (such as your birthday or other family celebrations?). My mother for example always hid what she was doing with the family money (no one in my family had any clue of how much she spent or what she did with our collectively pulled together resources), she also muttered prayers under her breath as she wiped our foreheads (mine and my sisters’) when we felt nauseous or sick. She thought us to cure evil-eye spells but also exerted a considerable amount of control over me and my sibling. One time, in my childhood I recall that my mother braided hair, then cut the braid to give me a shorter haircut which she deemed as ‘more practical for my playtime’ but she kept the braid and sealed it in plastic bag to preserve it. In many stories and dream interpretations, hair represents power, and indeed I always as blessed with a the capacity to grow beautiful and flowing looking hair. Symbolically then, my mother took away my power at a pivotal time when I was learning how to embody my beauty as a young girl. I struggled throughout my puberty with feeling feminine because of any such events where my mother refused to allow me to energetically grow into the woman I always felt I was inside. So, in your own story, notice such strange markers and take down detailed observations as you become aware of something ‘isn’t right here’. On the other hand, studying my parents to some extent helped me train my researcher’s observational skills which eventually earned me my PhD in socio-psychology, so no childhood skill is ever wasted 😉

Haunting (1893–94) by Odilon Redon – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The second step is to study your birth-chart and that of your mother and father as well. Family synastry – which is not as often mentioned as romantic synastry – can be a powerful tool in helping you heal ingrained family patterns, or deal with ancestral imprinting and maybe break some household curses that have been messing with your bloodline for years (if not centuries). Astrology can indeed be used as a tool for therapeutic healing.

The third step is to understand what a Nemesis is and how they are karmically linked to helping you spiritually evolve in this lifetime, albeit through some difficult lessons which involve betrayal, cruelty, lying, neglect and loss. The words Nemesis comes from Greek mythology, and it is associated with the energy of divine retribution in the shape of the Goddess Nemesis or Rhamnousia, the one who exterminates hubris, or the arrogance of Self before the Gods:

So in a similar vein to the Hindu Goddess Kali (or “She who is death”), the fierce face of the maternal deity Durga, if a human became too arrogant & dared to measure themselves up to the Gods, the Goddess Nemesis would swoop down from Mount Olympus and sever their head, humbling them as the mere mortal that they were. Metaphorically, this means that an encounter with a nemesis is an encounter with a fierce contender/a challenger in our lifetime and that the main spiritual lesson we are learning in that difficult relationship (which can span across years), is how to master our will-power, and to become humble by learning to work with Divine will. A Nemesis intervenes in your life to balance your Ego with your Self, to teach you about self-worth and self-empowerment through conflict, strife & restriction.

As I was researching in preparation for this article I need to mention that I found very few literary works on the spiritual meaning of a nemesis in someone’s life. I found however, mythological and academic descriptions, such as the one proposed by Lucia Corso and Daniela Bonnano who write in the abstract to their 2018 paper that:

“Aristotle defines nemesis (to nemesan = from the verb nemesao) as the emotional reaction of someone with a noble character at unmerited good fortune. That another’s good fortune is a central element of nemesis can also be inferred by the contraposition Aristotle proposed between nemesis and pity, which is pain at undeserved bad fortune”.

From L. Huppes-Cluysenaer, N.M.M.S. Coelho (eds.), Aristotle on Emotions in Law and Politics, Law and Philosophy Library 121, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-66703-4_1

So Aristotle argued that a nemesis is the pain we feel when we witness someone else’s undeserved success and he linked this pain to other feelings such as envy and Schadenfreude (the German term for the experience of pleasure at the humiliation of someone else). Overall, a nemesis as an emotional experience, describes an immediate feeling of injustice and indignation, and I must admit that the idea for this article came to me while I was absorbed in the mad beauty of one of the most original shows I saw on Netflix, the ‘OA’. The shows has us witness the female protagonists’ (Prairie Johnson) emotional story of captivity at the hands of the elusive Dr. Hunter Aloysius Percy (or Hap):

Britt Marling and Jason Alexander in a move still from the OA Season 2 series on Netflix

In that captivity she connects so deeply with her feelings, spirituality, the world beyond the veil to such an extent that she heals her eyesight and manages to break free (even if in another dimension). Although these cultural, philosophical and mythological references are interesting I want to write in the following, about my lived experience of meeting another Nemesis at work, the unfamiliar nemesis (so a different Nemesis that my mother, the familiar one, who is karmically linked to me through strong Saturn links in our synastry). I’d like to focus especially on the spiritual awakening that was unleashed when our energies clashed with each other.

Part of my karmic lessons process was to reach a position of power very early on in my academic career. After 5 years of anonymity and study, prolonged work hours and living in relative poverty I landed a position as lecturer for an institution in Oxford, UK. This happened as Jupiter in Scorpio was transiting my first house, ushering in a new spiritual cycle. For a working-class Romanian, non-native English speaker who immigrated to the UK to see if she could pursue higher education, to reach that level was the stuff that dreams were made of. The problem was that I wasn’t aware of how to stand in my power gracefully, how to wield it and honor it, and how to overcome the self-sabotage that was ingrained in my mind through the difficult interactions that I was still healing from my experience at the hands of my first nemesis, my mother. So I made a big mistake: I allowed my prosperity to be infected by pride and I became impatient and snappy with my boss, the person who smoothly ushered me into this new and powerful role. As our relationship began to degrade into a power struggle I realized that our interactions were increasingly bizarre, as if there was a fated quality to them and an irrational and negative obsession that she had with controlling my every move while I did everything possible to subvert her and assert my spiritual superiority. I wonder now if we were each other’s nemeses? But certainly to me she felt like a challenger, a contender who tried to take away from me that very thing she gave & helped me build. At the time, I was furious, caught up in a cat and mouse game with no clear results or clear insights related to why this was happening. I was also introjecting my anger at impending loss, instead of expressing it in a healthy way, so instead of dealing with my feelings I pushed myself harder and harder into work, travelling, publishing and even more than the occasional glass of wine to forget the difficult circumstances in which I placed myself in. Until a Mercury retrograde in Scorpio came about and after a fit of crying in my lonely flat, I picked up the Mary-el tarot deck and started shuffling, spreading and reading tarot cards all over a dark blue carpet that was actually a hand-over from her and lied in the middle of my living-room. I began the practice of pulling out a card a day and no matter how difficult the messages were I decided to take them in my stride. I wasn’t aware at the time that I had just started my healing & liberation process (and interestingly enough my relationship to her started changing for the worst as Uranus switched signs from Aries to Taurus in May of 2018).

The tarot practice helped me reach my intuition which was desperately telling me that I was unhappy at work and that I should consider a change, a change that my rational mind was resisting. The tarot gave me a sense of perspective and by adapting to its daily messages, I started to become emotionally detached from the karmic entanglements I was immersed in. I could finally see the lesson that my boss, my unfamiliar Nemesis, was bringing into my life and I could also my next steps. The only way out of a situation in which my inner light has been contaminated by Ego and hubris, was to undertake a sacrifice – it was the only way I could appease the Nemesis, resolve the karma and align to a more divinely connected and humble path (this was the healing that Neptune in Pisces conjunct my Sun was offering).

So I quit my job and left behind everything I had built in Oxford. And the decision liberated me. It felt like balance was restored. I came back to my home country, I rented a flat, and I felt I could finally rest (I didn’t completely do that, as I finished my first book and found a new job but the path ahead became more clear). Four years down the line, as I reflect back on that time I now fully comprehend the invaluable gift that my unfamiliar Nemesis has given me. Not only placing me on my spiritual path but also helping me become my own boss. I knew that deep down she was a benefic influence in my life, since her Sun is in Aries and conjunct my North Node (destiny) and Jupiter (growth, dharma, good luck) in our synastry chart. So I kept wondering: While all this enmity and vitriol between us? Why is she doing this when I knew about our astrological harmonies? Well because at the time I couldn’t see that what was actually harming me were not her words or actions towards me by my own pride, self-undoing and self-sabotage.

The difficult emotions I experienced in my interactions with my unfamiliar Nemesis brought up a lot of issues I hadn’t finished processing from my relationship with my familiar Nemesis. My mother as well shares some difficult astrological markers with me: her Sun in Gemini lands in my 8th house conjunct my natal Chiron (the Wounded Healer), so I can heal her but she can’t heal me, rather she sheds a light on the darker aspects of my life, like how I felt constantly betrayed by her lack of unconditional love and early childhood neglect. We also share a separating energy, a tough love marker which also portends a teacher-disciple bond: her natal Saturn in Pisces is conjunct my natal Mercury and Sun in Pisces. Growing up all I could remember of my mother was how she was never there to emotionally soothe me, or how she always spoke over me to correct me or shout at me and how I was never good enough for her. Although, as I grew up, more and more people revealed to me what a skewed perception I had of myself based on what I absorbed from my mother’s hatred.

To other people of different ages, races and backgrounds, I was indeed beautiful and intelligent and hard-working and kind – all the things I never was in my mothers’ eyes. But then I understood, that as a Nemesis, she kept me limited and humbled to the point of self-abnegation because this was the emotional karma I had to pay back in my early life (with my Moon conjunct Saturn in the 2nd house of safety and self-worth, I had very little of these qualities in my interactions with my unstable mother). My natal Sagittarius stellium in this 2nd house showed me that the toughest lessons in my life would come from women, especially wild, independent women who used anger as a way to threaten me and fulfilling their Nemesis role in my life. Why do women represent Sagittarius energy in a chart, when the Sagittarius is symbolized by a centaur? This is because Diana/Artemis the Goddess of the Hunt is the Greek mythological protector of the sign of Sagittarius. Although Zeus/Jupiter is considered the natural ruler of the centaur, I noticed as well through my astrological work that the charts of my clients who had a Moon in Sagittarius or a stellium of planets in this wild and freedom-loving sign, portends some significant karmic unpacking regarding their wild feminine selves in relation to their mothers, female bosses, female siblings and female friends.

In spite of everything that I faced in my life, I am grateful that I am able to extract wisdom and write about what has happened. This post is not meant to be a self-absorbed outpouring, but it serves as sharing some of the occult undercurrents that have helped me see my everyday life and my external actions as spiritually linked to a larger and more meaningful plan, in the hopes that you might find comfort in these words if something similar has happened to you. I also wanted to apply the term nemesis to an in-depth case study and to achieve this aim I use what I know best: my own experiences. I would be curious to read some of your own examples, if the descriptions of the familiar & unfamiliar nemeses have resonated with you.

With universal love,


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