Meeting Nemesis

I don’t have an especially transactional relationship with Nemesis, but she is important to me. Here is a little about how she got that way.

If you’ve been following me for a little while, you remember me looking into the goddess Nemesis. ( What I don’t think I ever elaborated on was why and how she popped up on my radar (or I on hers, who knows).

I was doing a curse-breaking work a friend helped me set up, and the candle flame was behaving pretty wildly. Flickery, splitting, jumping, flaring, just all over the place doing its thing. My friend said that that means something is trying to reach out to me, and it’d be a good time to try to make contact and see who it is and/or what they’re here for.

So I pulled out a deck of tarot cards and started just… making up a reading as I went, asking questions and then pulling cards, shuffling when it felt right. Asking more questions based on the answers to the previous ones. Here’s what came up. I’m going to include the specifics on the readings themselves, along with some of my thought process. This is going to be a little messy and scattered, but I hope if you are interested in Nemesis that you will be willing to humor me.

Reading One: Introduction

Me: 3W, reversed

Who is this? 1S, reversed

What called you? 9S, reversed

What do you think I should do? Sun

This is a lot of reversals and half swords, so I put the cards back and did a follow-up. I like to have a signifier in each new spread just so that I can keep things in a context, so you’ll see that multiple times.

Me: KnW

You: Sun

What do you want to tell me? 1C

What I need to do: 1P

Another spread:

Me: 4W, reversed

You: Magician

What can I do for you? World, reversed (So the world is fucked up and broken. Agreed. What can I offer YOU? 8S, reversed. So, nothing personally? Just bigger world-fixy things.)

What would make you proud? 2S

What would disappoint you? 5S. Balance my own fight with other people’s needs.

Where else can I look for help? 7C, reversed. People and orgs doing actual concrete things, not just hoping/dreaming. Briefly: praxis.

What can they do for me? KiC

What should I watch out for? 10P, reversed. People I can build relationship with by being proactive. Don’t count on just assuming I’ll have enough. Comfort and coasting aren’t safe yet.

What I haven’t tried: Tower

How do I call back when I want to talk? Is that something you want? Wheel of Fortune. So they’ll be by when they come back, just whenever.

The conclusions I came up with: I think I’m supposed to break something that’s fucking over me and others, instead of leveraging it in ways that make it stronger. So activist orgs versus going through the legal system, which does in fact make it stronger.

But who identifies THEMSELF as the reversed Ace of Swords? Either someone who got close to my goal but didn’t quite get there? Or someone who makes people fumble their own rules, ideas, or power. Someone who helps cause accidents.

They’re not willing to be relied upon if they can’t be, so they made no promises there. That’s actually super reassuring for me.

Sabotaging others is clearly a bridge too far, especially if they’re just fellow victims of this same problem. Either that or it’s just not something I specifically should be doing. Rather, I should build and invest with other people who are into that, and let people who fuck over others just fail on their own. Don’t drop them from the roof; just don’t catch them when they’re falling.

A common theme for me in my witchy work is figures who turn rules intended to restrict them into their own power and authority. (See also: Hel.) The rules imposed upon them are also their weapons. When I went looking for entities associated with misfortune, I found Tyche, and slid straight into Nemesis and Themis.

Reading Two: Reaching Back

I dug up a spread that I thought might help me dig a little deeper into what I’d found. ( This was a really interesting one, and guided much of how I interact with Nemesis (to the extent that I do).

Spirit: 2W, taking responsibility for your power. Controlling power, not letting it control you.

Past Activities: Wheel of Fortune, turning the wheel if someone has stuck where they shouldn’t.

Past Influences/Experiences: PP, reversed. An opportunity for growth that never came.

Personality/How they Think: Hanged Man. Growth isn’t free. Knowledge requires focus and willingness.

Present Status: 5W, reversed. Things have been calm. A lack of (perhaps necessary) conflict.

Their Situation/Their Why: 9S, reversed. Paralysis by guilt or fear, unwillingness to move forward because it means going through a trial.

Their Health: 2C, reversed. Lack of counterpart, of a necessary intergrown partner.

Mental Health/Mood: 5S, reversed. Not interested in zero sum games.

Physical Health/Manifestation: KiC, reversed. Nobody to connect with? Maybe this just means Not Poseidon.

Things they Like to Do: PW, reversed. Ruining orchestrations, separating agents from their tools.

What to Know: Temperence. Big value on balance, especially by keeping opposing things in balance.

What do Avoid: Hierophant. Don’t do things just for the sake of tradition. Or! Don’t look to her for spiritual teaching or authority. Or maybe just don’t listen to traditions about her.

What Can I Do to Help/What Are Others Doing? 1S. Keep hold of it. Don’t drop it or elsewise be careless. Try something new, but responsibly.

What’s Not Helping Them? Strength. Being restrained by someone stronger even if that someone isn’t aggressive about it.

Conscious Desires: 2P, reversed. Tired of juggling, especially of doing it alone. Or do they feel they’ve dropped what they used to juggle? Maybe they just want one to finally win, but they also know what would be lost if it did. It’d be down to the Ace instead of forward to Three. Nothing to build on.

Unconscious Desires: 7W, reversed. Tired of fighting and being fought. Just want to enjoy what they’re protecting.

Hopes: 6P, reversed. Wants back what they give. Reciprocity. Ability to lean on what they’ve built, to be held by it.

Fears: 7C. Someone good falling because they were focused on wishes and not their real situation. Or! Possibly of someone getting so stuck on their suggested (assumed?) path that they miss the opportunity to find someplace new, someplace that isn’t on the map (yet). Choice paralysis.


She reeeaaally doesn’t seem to want to talk about herself here. I asked, “What do you need our relationship to look like?” and the reversed 10W fell out of the deck. Maybe… to not bear her burden alone? A break that she’s afraid to take because what if everything falls? Lots of reversals too. Maybe it’s easier for her to say what she doesn’t want than what she does. Does she have a clear sense of how else things could be? Or is she still at the diagnosis stage of observing problems?

A major question I was left with: Is Nemesis alone? Where is Themis? Worship of Nemesis seems to have outlived devotion to Themis, which is concerning. Does Nemesis have anyone like her, anymore? Maybe Themis did more for Nemesis than either of them realized. Does Nemesis have someone good and trustworthy to love her back?

I don’t know how to help with that but I’d like to try. I’ve been a What that was left alone to become a Who, and I hated it. How do you know what to do, how to even think, without a purpose? Without a worthy team? Without an easy objective reason? What if Nemesis doesn’t have to feel like I did? How do you allocate support to the god of allocating things?

I think all of this is why I find it concerning when other people immediately momzone Nemesis. For one thing, from what we know about her, she doesn’t leap onto anyone’s “side.” She has standards, and people who meet them and people who don’t. There is no need to take “sides.” Just because she may judge that land should be redistributed doesn’t mean she’s on the side of the recipient. This is why I find her trustworthy. She doesn’t pick a few people and say, “this is my ride or die mortal, this is mine and I will protect them from everything even if they are a colossal tool.” She has standards and people who are currently meeting them and people who are not. That’s trustworthy to me. That’s someone reliable.

Further….. not every powerful woman has to be related to as a mother, and if I am reading these signs correctly… what she needs is not yet another dependent to supervise and babysit and impart perspective and ethics to. What she needs is a peer, someone she can turn her back on for two seconds. Maybe even someone who helps with her work to lighten the load. I don’t know if I can be that, obviously, but I do very much feel like that’d be most helpful for her to get from someone somewhere. The best I can probably do as such a small fragment of the universe is to just… try my best not to add work to her queue. And if I can cross off a couple of minor things before she gets to them, even better.

Because she doesn’t necessarily need another child. The solution to all womanly discontent is not “Sad lady? Give babby.” What if some women just need to be able to rely on what they built for everyone else? I can’t fundamentally change how Nemesis is in the universe, but maybe I can pull out a small human-scale fork or two while I’m here.

Tarot Spotlight: The Light of the Sun, Star, and Moon

A lot of cards prominently feature light as a Symbolic Element. The Hermit has a lantern. The Sun and Star get their own whole cards. The Tower is being hit by lightning. The Moon borrows light and uses it for its own purposes.

Light can bring clarity, but it behaves differently based on where it’s shining and how gently or harshly.

The Sun is warmth and easy joy for a lot of people, the kind of uncomplicated sincere unselfconscious happiness that a lot of us have drilled out of us as children. This is why there’s a child on a horse on the RWS version. This kid is out here, entirely naked as kids sometimes are determined to be, but contrary to what we’re taught… this happy and sincere and fully embodied kid is getting places. Growing out of who they are wasn’t necessary, nor was hiding anything. The most complete and sincerely-rooted version of themselves can also ride the always-symbolically-relevant horse, just as they are.

There is a caution here sometimes.

The Sun is a very vulnerable card, because sincerity is vulnerable. Being willing to be seen is extremely vulnerable. Being willing to pursue things as yourself allows other people the opportunity to form opinions about it, and other people’s opinions can turn into problems. The Sun is not just carefree and innocent; it’s very brave. The Sun goes unprotected by shade or shelter, choosing to be seen for its whole self rather than hide behind defenses.

Not everyone can be The Sun all the time. Sometimes, there are more important things than being accurately seen and understood. Honesty is a risk, and we can’t always take that risk.

The Star is less glaring, and to me implies an external source of guidance or support, tailored to your circumstances. It’s a glimpse that things are changing for the better, or perhaps most of all that YOU can change them, without the overwhelming detail coming down on you like a load of obligation bricks.

The Sun shows all the details. The world is blasted with the unforgiving glare that shows every part of it for what it is, and so are the people in it. The star is more like, “just wanted to remind you that there is a forward, we’ll talk about specifics later, xoxo”

It comes after Tower for that reason. After lightning has hit something you relied on, the last thing that’ll reassure you is GIANT FLASH OF OVERWHELMING LIGHT! HOPE THAT HELPS!! FOR GOOD MEASURE IT WILL ALSO BE LOUD!

instead it’s “light can be safe, take your time and we’ll hang out soon”

The Moon is a different illumination, in that it sort of…. doesn’t illuminate very much? You can see more, but not necessarily in a way that brings clarity. Moonlight tells you where the deep shadows are but does not dispel them. A lot of the destructive potential of water is there too, in the scorpion sort of sneaking out from the symbolically important river.

Personal discernment and judgment become really important when the Moon shows up in a reading. The Moon paints hazards vaguely, often just shrouding them in a vague dread, and you could avoid the worst of them if you avoid all of them. But can you?

I hope this makes it a little easier to see why it’s not enough to say that light is a symbol for revelation and guidance. There are types of revelation, and times for guidance, and those specifics matter.

Tarot Spotlight: Pages and Knights

Pages and Knights are probably fairly easy to read for people who treat face cards as representations of actual individual people showing up for emphasis. Pages are kids, Knights are frequently freshly-adult fellas, and that is that. I don’t read them that way, so here is an alternative perspective that may help if you don’t get much use out of things like gender symbolism.


Pages just got here and they are so excited. I don’t read them with any particular gender, just as a phase of the journey of each suit’s topic. They’re… a level of expertise in each subject area, I suppose.

In the RWS, the Page of Pentacles has a pentacle they are holding up, and you can imagine it as the Ace of Pentacles , only the hand it’s in is theirs. You can see more than you could in the Ace, their whole arm and body and even where they are. It’s having the seed that the Ace represents and also understanding its context in a way that promises to be actually useful.

The Page of Cups has discovered introspection and empathy. They may not be extraordinarily skilled with them yet, but they are invested in figuring it out. They’re going to introspect to the best of their ability (no promises) and figure out other people’s feelings as best they can too (no promises).

The Page of Swords has found a new analytical framework, a new Theory of Everything, and they are going to apply it to absolutely every single question they encounter for a while yet. They are rigorously stress-testing this approach and its assumptions, which is a step that should never ever be skipped. They will eventually need to read another book though.

The Page of Wands has found their agency. They can impact things! Their choices matter! They may not know quite what they’re going to do with their new stick but it’s real and it’s theirs and that means when they know what to do, they’ve got something to start with.


The Knights have done a little bit of theoretical testing and are moving on to applying the principle of their suit. They have the enthusiasm of the Pages but with a level of inertia that will sometimes serve them well and sometimes not. They are Pages on horses, and they are on their way to… well, hopefully somewhere.

The Knight of Pentacles in the RWS has a horse that is standing and not rearing or running or getting up to any other shenanigans. This Knight is examining their Pentacle, making sure they really knows what its deal is before they tuck it under their arm and haul ass into the sunset with it. They’re a Knight so they need to move, they need to, but their inertia is the inertia of a body at rest. They need to come to a decision and get into motion.

The Knight of Cups has figured out that intuition is important and has a role and a purpose and power and it does things! The Knight of Cups will order their entire life around a dream they had three years ago, and this is tremendously powerful provided they pick the right dream.

The Knight of Swords has learned that it’s important to be sharp, to be decisive, and to break things when necessary. This Knight has learned that that which can be destroyed by the truth deserves to be, and might be actively hunting for new things to destroy with their truth. Their last few swings went super well so they are just going to keep swinging and hopefully their momentum will carry them in a direction they chose.

The Knight of Wands needs to do things for the sake of doing them. They know forward momentum and they know stasis, and stasis scares the everloving shit out of them. This Knight needs a quest. This is good, because a lot of quests urgently need a knight! But at the same time, a Knight and their horse will both need rest, which means doing things that are not strictly quest-related. Getting going after those pauses is the challenge of the Knight of Wands.


Pages have interest and drive. Knights have whatever inertia they built up as Pages, but haven’t developed great discernment or control yet. Both have a lot of sincerity and a lot of energy to offer whatever they’ve set their sights on.

Shadowscapes Reading

This spread is my usual comprehension cross.

Swords show up a lot here, so note that going forward.

I don’t know who needs to read this but your honesty and willingness to question yourself and others is screwing you over. Are you frantically scrambling to figure out everything about a situation so that you’ll feel in control of its descent into bullshit? Because you aren’t going to find the perfect idea, the perfect explanation, the perfect argument, to prevent what you are worried about.

Since the problem is going to get worse, start saving up the energy you’ve been spending on keeping everything in order. You can’t, so decide how much energy you want to have wasted when it actually comes time to pick up the pieces. Do you want to reach that task in a place of desperation and exhaustion? Probably not. So take a rest on whatever ways you can, if only to make the rebuilding less horrific for your future self.

Tarot del Toro Reading

Hey you, reading this right now. You should know that unless you know what your next step needs to be, unless you know how things need to go for you, keeping a death grip on everything in your life won’t actually give you the control you’re hoping for.

I know you want to feel safe. But if you don’t know the difference between a surprise and the total dissolution of your life, you are going to continue feeling stuck and unsatisfied. And then you will feel even more desperate for control. It’s a trap.