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Liminal Sources of Dangerous Powers: A Case of the Black Ram

Nika Lavrentyeva, Ekaterina Alexandrova


This article proposes a semiology-inspired model for the description of “demonic characters.” In this model, an image of a mythological character is seen as a kind of sign with a twofold plane of expression because Egyptian signifiers combine visual and verbal components. Each of these components could be expressed through text and/or display, as in the case of the “Lord of Power” described verbally in the Pyramid Texts and depicted visually in the Book of Two Ways as a Black Ram.An incarnation of the pharaoh in the Pyramid Texts, in the Book of Two Ways the “Lord of Power” is one of the “judges” threatening the deceased. Viewed from different perspectives (e.g., inhabitants of the Netherworld, the pharaoh, the noble deceased, the sungod), the Black Ram and related characters of the later sources seem to be dangerous and hostile creatures not as much “by nature” but by context and situation in which the solar energy exists in a particular moment and to whom it is opposed. More generally, this essay shows that characters often perceived as demonic genetically can possess positive divine, even solar, energy, which in some contexts can receive dangerous, aggressive manifestations.

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