Most of us associate the word “nemesis” with a long-standing rival; an archenemy. However, many don’t know that this word originates from the name of a Greek goddess.
Nemesis is the inescapable goddess of vengeance. Yet even in the pantheon of Greek gods, Nemesis was not a major player, though her role seems quite important.
Adrasteia, which means “the inescapable,” is another name for the Greek goddess Nemesis. She was also the “Goddess of Rhamnous,” a name that refers to her illustrious temple in that city.
One of the most interesting origin stories is how Nemesis came to be. She is unique among the gods and goddesses because she didn’t come out of a womb. Instead, she hatches from an egg. Her history is cloudy, but the Greek myths consistently refer to her as the goddess of justice.
In all her actions, the Greek goddess Nemesis sought to do what was right. This explains why her images have a set of scales. Still, Nemesis has a reputation for ruthlessness and a passion for justice. And ultimately, Nemesis is all about balance.
Both new and experienced magicians can learn a lot from working with Nemesis. She forces you to confront the imbalances within yourself and those in your outer world.
Today, we’ll delve deeper into the goddess Nemesis. We’ll learn about her fascinating life, and how to work with her.
The Greek Goddess Nemesis In History & Myth
There are different theories concerning the origin of the Greek goddess Nemesis. Some sources said she existed before Zeus. However, other accounts also mention Zeus as her father.
The tale of how Greek goddess Nemesis came into existence has varying interpretations, too. One of them is the idea that the moon came out when Nyx gave birth to a silver egg in the middle of the sea of chaos. Nemesis and a few of her siblings all emerged from this egg. In this version of events, she did not have a father when she was born.
The second version of Nemesis’ background posits that she is the daughter of Oceanus, the god of the sea. She was the distributor of justice, regardless of whether it was good or bad justice. Nemesis was also the “Goddess of Rhamnous,” which is a city in the region of Attica that is home to the temple dedicated to her.
The Meaning of Her Name
Nemesis has several names. One of these names was Rhamnousia, the goddess of the ancient Greek coastal city of Rhamnous. And perhaps the most apt of all, Adrestia, which means “the inescapable.”
The name Nemesis also means “she who distributes” or “deals out.” Again, this refers to how she doled out punishment, justice, and retribution.
Her Role as A Goddess
Nemesis could gauge one’s level of contentment. She knew whether joy was not occurring too frequently or in an excessive amount. If she concluded that this joy was, in some way, unmerited, she brought destruction and anguish to redress the balance. So she punishes not only evildoers, but also balances emotions.
The Greek goddess Nemesis steers the course of human events in a way that preserves balance. She swiftly punished the ones who are manipulative or displayed excessive hubris toward the gods.
Nemesis & Narcissus
Narcissus, a hunter from Thespiae, was arguably the most handsome man in Greek mythology. But his ego was too big for his pride. His constant rejection drove those who loved him to despair. Some of them go so far as to take their own lives as a demonstration of their devotion to Narcissus.
After Narcissus rejected Echo’s love proposal, she slowly deteriorated until only her voice remained. Seeing what happened, the Greek goddess Nemesis sprang into action and lured Narcissus to a nearby river. There, he saw his reflection in the water and immediately fell head over heels in love with himself.
Narcissus mistook the person he saw in the river for a real person, but in reality, it was just his reflection. He made an effort to make the representation like him. Narcissus, weary from his fruitless efforts, withered away by the riverbank and then blossomed into a white and gold flower.
Nemesis & Zeus
The story begins in the prologue to the Iliad, the epic story of Troy. In the story, Zeus fell in love with Nemesis and chased after her when she ran away in shame. Zeus pursued her through her many guises before finally capturing her.
While Zeus disguised himself as a swan to track down Nemesis, she transformed into a goose. They laid an egg, which they presented to the Spartan queen. Helen of Troy was born from an egg and raised by Leda.
In a second version by Catasterismi, Zeus wanted Nemesis but was unable to convince her to be with him. He changed into a swan, and then told Aphrodite to transform into an eagle to chase him.
Nemesis felt pity for the swan so she took it into her arms and she promptly fell asleep after. Zeus took advantage of her and got her pregnant. Hermes then brought the egg to Leda, who raised Helen.
Nemesis & Tyche
True to myth, Nemesis had a nemesis of her own – the goddess of good fortune, Tyche.
More deities and people liked Tyche than Nemesis because she didn’t worry as much about equity and fairness. When Tyche spread good fortune far and wide, it often threw off the balance that Nemesis labored to create. As Tyche gave too freely, Nemesis took action. Nemesis ensured that chaos was kept at bay. Because Nemesis was always working to balance Tyche, she was often associated with bad fortune or revenge, though she can technically take or give.
It is possible to have too much good fortune, even for good people. One may also get spoiled by success, whether it’s through luck, love, or wealth.
Nemesis and Tyche are often portrayed together, despite often working against each other. The two of them somehow worked together to determine who deserved Tyche’s good fortune and who should be left to Nemesis.
Nemesis & Other Deities
Nemesis had relationships with other goddesses besides Tyche. She also frequently collaborated with Aidos, the symbol of shame. They worked together to make sure that people who messed with the natural order and ideal balance were not only punished but also felt morally responsible for their actions.
Nemesis also collaborated with Dike, the goddess of justice, to find delinquents. Dike was especially concerned with moral transgressions, so she and Nemesis frequently tracked down the same perpetrators.
Those responsible for dispensing justice made sure nobody got away without paying their dues. The Erinyes may attack them, or Aidos drove them to despair, but either way, they got what they deserved.
We often see images of the goddess Nemesis holding a sword and scales. The reason for this is that by making people take responsibility for their actions, she helps restore harmony to society.
Artists also depicted Nemesis with a blindfold. This was because her focus was on the individual’s actions and their impact on those around them rather than on the person – she cared not for their thoughts or feelings.
Another image of Nemesis is that of a stunning woman with big white wings.
Nemesis looks strikingly similar to the Greek goddess Athena. Many noticed similarities between the two goddesses’ attire and accessories. Plus, they both bring wisdom and fairness to the world. Nemesis also often wears a long robe of pure white or a pale blue.
Sometimes Nemesis was depicted with a chariot pulled by griffins. Other times she carries a whip, measuring rod, dagger, bridle, scourge, or wings. Pretty much any weapon used to dole out justice can be used by Nemesis.
Even the great god Zeus feared the mysterious and terrifying Nyx. Thus, it is not surprising that many link Nemesis to the goddesses Nyx (her mother) and Erebus (the deity of darkness). No human could outrun Nemesis, much like the night or darkness.
It is important to remember that the ancient Greeks did not attempt to label Nemesis as good or bad. They thought she was essential to the harmony of the cosmos. In the most basic terms, she was a deity who provided worshippers with their heart’s desires.
This means that she doled out a fortune to those whose deeds were good and right. Arrogant people meanwhile, got hit with a deluge of hardships from Nemesis.
How Do You Know If The Goddess Nemesis Is Calling To You?
When a god or goddess “taps” a mortal, it usually results in a string of revelations rather than a single event. A lot of these messages are more symbolic than literal.
Nemesis isn’t a very well-liked deity because of the negative connotations she’s often given. Some people are even warned of working with her because of this perception. But if you learn about her background and beliefs, you’ll see that her pursuit of balance and justice is truly admirable. And Nemesis can be a wonderful deity to help you keep your life in balance.
How does one recognize a call from Nemesis? Indicators to keep an eye out for are listed below.
Your subconscious constantly brings up images of Nemesis in your dreams.
Night after night, Nemesis appears in your dreams in various guises. A woman with wings could be the subject of your nighttime fantasies.
Alternatively, you may have noticed recurring visuals of a dagger and a scale in a variety of sources and perhaps in unexpected locations. Goose sightings and apple sightings keep popping up in your life. Maybe this is Nemesis trying to get in touch with you.
You’ve been acting in ways that are out of character for you.
You’ve developed a newfound passion for political activism and social reform, or for any kind of justice. Or perhaps you harden your heart against drama and toxic behavior. Instead of responding to everything that grabs your attention, you’d rather pick and choose. You now have a better understanding of yourself and the results of your actions. This could be Nemesis trying to get your attention.
You may also be more interested in the law or in fairness in general.
Repeated sightings of Nemesis symbols
You may also experience random occurrences of Nemesis symbols. The goose that just wandered into your backyard might be the first one you’ve ever seen in your area. Or perhaps you’re the lucky recipient of an unexpected gift of apples. Your interest in local history might be piqued by a museum’s display of historical daggers. Recognize recurrent events, and see if there is a trend. You might eventually learn if Nemesis is attempting to get your attention.
If you’re feeling drawn to answer Nemesis’s “call,” you might find it helpful to familiarize yourself with the signs she’s known for.
You are working on issues of fairness and justice.
If you’re working through issues relating to fairness and justice in your personal life, this may be a good time to work with Nemesis.
Symbols of Nemesis:
- Branch laden with apples
- Griffin-drawn Chariot
- Measuring Rod (Or Tally Stick)
Nemesis has been praised in many myths and legends for being an unyielding goddess who takes great pains to deliver justice. That her name means “the bearer of” in its original language is hardly a coincidence.
The whip, the dagger, the scales, the sword, and the scourge are all common Nemesis symbols. Other examples include the bridle, the chariot, and the measuring rod (or tally stick). All of these signs are consistent with her status as a deity.
How To Work With The Goddess Nemesis:
With her reputation as an antagonist, many people shied away from Nemesis’ worship and collaboration during ancient times out of fear of incurring her wrath.
But despite the common perception that Nemesis only brings bad luck, she is responsible for doling out both good and bad fortune to those who deserve it. Still, Nemesis has a smaller following of devotees who work with and worship her because of people’s assumptions about her.
Many people have a negative impression of this deity, and they try to dissuade those who express curiosity about her by suggesting that she is harmful at best. Fortunately, that is not the case, and Nemesis is an excellent deity to work with.
The ability to think critically, take charge of one’s actions, and distinguish right from wrong are all great benefits of working with Nemesis. The relationship with Nemesis can be rocky if you don’t have this, as she teaches her followers to see both sides of the story as equally valid.
There is no dogmatic approach with Nemesis and you will find that all of your illusions regarding any type of dogma or strict perception will be destroyed.
When it comes to the concept of “justice,” this goddess has very firm guidelines. Nemesis will punish you if you treat other people unfairly. Good fortune will come to those who are helpful and kind to others. She truly cares that we figure out how to make the best decisions for ourselves.
Nemesis gives tough love, and she can be a little harsh. She knows that you’re better than she is and that you have more potential than you’re currently using.
Devotional Acts to Nemesis
Nemesis has called you, and you have accepted. What actions can you take that are consistent with her role and vision? What specific acts will please her?
Here are some actions you can take while working with the Goddess of Divine Retribution, as well as some of the ways you can learn and grow by working with the goddess Nemesis.
1. Don’t skimp on monetary costs for others, such as a tip. Learn to give the amount that others deserve rather than more or less.
2. Take a stand for the things you believe in, yet make sure that you fairly consider both sides, too.
3. Smile at the person all the other people are ignoring. Balance the scales in social events.
4. Learn about current events without getting caught up in dogmatic thinking. Instead, approach both viewpoints logically.
5. Find ways, in general, to balance the scales, whether this is in your personal life or in the world around you.
6. Pick and choose your battles, but when you do, be fierce.
7. Be certain that the reason you respect and trust people is that they have earned it, and not because someone told you to.
Basically, don’t take anything around you for granted when working with Nemesis. Instead, consider the ideas of fairness and what one is owed versus what one must earn. You’ll find that your viewpoint changes drastically through this work.
Of course, you can also call upon Nemesis in magical workings or plead with her to dispense justice to those who have harmed you. The trick is that the justice must be due; Nemesis won’t dole out justice just for hurt feelings.
Offerings For Nemesis:
The ideal offerings for Nemesis are, of course, those that are associated with her, like sharp weapons. You can improvise by buying or making one out of wood, or get one of those toys. A whip is another thing that’s linked to the goddess Nemesis, as well as scales, feathers, apple blossoms, and apple seeds.
Other offerings that you may put out for Nemesis are the following:
- Daffodil/Narcissus flower
- Frankincense, Myrrh
- Red wine
- Olive oil
- Milk and honey
- Blueberry tea
- Burnt meat
- Stones and Gems: Red jasper, onyx, tourmaline, garnet
- Statutes relating to justice/balance
What Can You Learn From Nemesis?
Humanity should not tamper with justice and equilibrium, as demonstrated by Nemesis. Those who haven’t done anything to enrage her are met with apathy or, on rare occasions, stern treatment. She finds it annoying when people waste her time with small talk about unimportant matters.
Instead, Nemesis focuses on important issues. So if you choose to work with Nemesis, make sure that you’re ready.
Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, teaches us that our actions always have repercussions. She blamed those who err on the side of mercy for the prevalence of evil in the world. Their kindness just gives monsters license to keep on being monsters. That’s why she can’t stand hearing people say things like “all life is sacred” or “forgiveness is always important.” She may decide to correct these individuals harshly. Nemesis ultimately teaches balance.
Punishing those who cause harm to others or the environment is, in Nemesis’s opinion, a moral imperative. She has little faith in mercy and forgiveness, only in fairness and balance. The ability to forgive the unworthy is seen by her as a sign of weakness.
Some offenders can be forgiven if they make a sincere effort to reform. People are being far too sympathetic and underestimate how evil humans can be, but Nemesis is mostly right.
But this doesn’t mean that Nemesis automatically supports human laws because she opposes many of them. Rather, she defends the divine law and does not tolerate deviations from it. And divine law is much more absolute with fewer grey areas than human law. Nemesis can teach you how to understand fairness from a universal perspective rather than our mundane perspective.
My Experience Working With Nemesis
Nemesis is a patron goddess who safeguards and supports her followers. Those who seek her favor must act with integrity and respect the laws of nature.
Responsibility and the embrace of one’s dark side are encouraged by Nemesis. These things don’t seem like they go together, but remember: Nemesis is all about balance.
Nemesis taught me to acknowledge and even embrace my flaws, as flaws are part of the balance of life. She also urged me to accept difficult things that have happened to me and see the growth that came from these events.
In my personal life, Nemesis helped me deal with toxic people and understand when to cut cords and when to extend the olive branch. While she helped me put up some boundaries, she also showed me when boundaries can grow too strict. Anything out of balance, Nemesis will point out.
Sometimes in life, we encounter a person whose sole purpose seems to be to test us to our limits. The term “our nemesis” has been used to refer to this individual on occasion.
Nemesis, goddess of vengeance, may be able to help us deal with these kinds of people. As long as we are not the source of the problem, she can fix or get rid of any interpersonal issues. And sometimes, she even sends these people our way in order to facilitate growth.
If you’re willing to see the dark and light sides of both yourself and the world around you, then Nemesis can be a great deity to work with. She’s not dogmatic and can truly expand your consciousness above what you thought was possible.