Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Bill Cipher & Triangular Theology

I have recently become obsessed with Gravity Falls. I know it is too little, too late, since the show is over and the fandom is sort of dead, but hey, I still have Rick and Morty, which is in the same multiverse as Gravity Falls, so it’s fine. As I was watching Gravity Falls over and over again this past couple of weeks, I started thinking about Bill Cipher and religion. Bill Cipher is the main villain in Gravity Falls. He is a triangle from the second dimension and seems to be a demon or some kind of demigod with numerous powers. Throughout the show, Bill attempts to merge the nightmare dimension, which he currently resides in, with the Gravity Falls dimension, and because of this he often interacts with and influences humanity.

(image via playbuzz)

If I existed in the same universe as Bill Cipher, I would seriously be concerned about Bill’s influence on religion, because triangles are everywhere in religion. It’s arguably one of the most universal symbols in real-world religions. And according to Gravity Falls canon, Bill has been making deals and influencing humankind for a long time, so the idea that he could have influenced ancient and current religions is not that out there.

Let’s start with Pythagoras—yes, that Pythagoras, of the Pythagorean theorem fame. What you might not know about Pythagoras is that there is actually a cult that existed during the 6th century, that was devoted to his theories, which had a lot of strange rules and beliefs. The cult, or maybe even Pythagoras himself, even denied new and clearly true mathematics because it didn’t fit in with his/their theories. Some stories even claimed he or the cult killed the person who challenged his theories. The cult believed that Pythagoras could also recall four of his past lives perfectly, was possibly the son of Apollo, and some stories claim he made a deal with a god/or the gods. (If you want to know more about Pythagoras, check out this awesome Vihart video.)

Before I get into the connection here with Bill, let me first talk about another ancient group that seemed interested in triangles and that’s of course the Egyptians. The pyramid had major spiritual significance for the ancient Egyptians. They believed that the pharaohs were gods on Earth and thus represented a important link between the human and divine. When the pharaoh died it was believed that part of his soul lived on. The pyramid was also a symbol of a connection between the human and divine, so this was what was used to house the remains of the pharaoh and care for him in the afterlife. So why am I bringing this all up in connection with Bill Cipher? Well, it’s brief, but there is a moment in an episode of Gravity Falls where Dipper is flipping through the parts of the journal that talk about Bill and we see references to all of the above.

In this picture, we clearly see that Ford, Dipper and Mabel’s great uncle and the author of the journals, believed that the pyramids were connected to Bill and that the god that Pythagoras met was Bill, which was why Pythagoras was obsessed with triangles. Furthermore, in the context of the show, we know that Bill and Ford worked together for a while, so perhaps Bill even straight up told Ford that he influenced the pyramids and met Pythagoras. It’s very clear that Bill had an effect on human religions in the Gravity Falls universe.

That is not the end of Bill’s influence on religion. Bill is also clearly modeled after the Eye of Providence, or in the context of the Gravity Falls universe, it’s modeled after him. Even if you don’t realize it, if you’re American, you have seen the Eye of Providence everywhere, because it’s on American money. Despite conspiracy theorists claiming this is a secret Illuminati symbol, it is actually a Christian symbol. The Christian god is often depicted with a triangle because it is an easy symbol for the Trinity or the three aspects of God (God, Christ, & the Holy Spirit). The eye in the center is meant to show God watching over all of mankind or God’s ability to see everything. Like the first two examples, this is also referenced in the pages of the journal where we see the pyramids and Pythagoras. There is a tiny picture of the Eye of Providence on the same page.

We also know that later on there are people in Gravity Falls who specifically worship Bill. Ford finds cave paintings of Bill from when Bill interacted with a shaman who was one of the natives of Gravity Falls. We also see a tapestry of Bill worshippers in the Northwest Manor. And finally, Ford himself seems to have, for a time, worshipped Bill. Ford meditates to allow Bill access to his mind and is shown sitting in a circle of candles and pyramids while doing so. He also has tapestries with Bill’s depiction on it and a gold statue of Bill that looks remarkably similar to depictions of Shiva from Hinduism.

(image via sivanaspirit)

So why is Bill influencing religion? Does he actually want to be worshipped? I don’t think so. According to the Gravity Falls wiki Bill kept reaching out to people trying to get them to create a portal for him to enter our world, but wasn’t successful until Ford. Throughout the show, Bill seems somewhat omnipotent or omnipresent, but we know Bill actually isn’t. There are times when he doesn’t seem to know everything and our main characters are able to deceive him. But how does Bill seem to know so much, then? That was revealed when Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls, went on Reddit as Bill Cipher and answered questions. When one user asks “Also, how would a girl like me go about crushing her enemies?” he responds by saying:

TEAM UP WITH ME. INCREASING MY POWER IS EASY AND ANYONE CAN DO IT! JUST DRAW MY FORM ANYWHERE IN YOUR HUMAN WORLD- EACH IMAGE OF ME ACTS A PEEPHOLE FROM MY DIMENSION TO YOURS. THE MORE I SEE, THE MORE I KNOW. THE MORE I KNOW, THE GREATER MY POWER. THE GREATER MY POWER, THE MORE ENEMIES OF YOURS I CAN CRUSH. JUST SHAKE MY HAND

So Bill has so much knowledge because his image is so many places, allowing him to see, know, and learn things. And what better way to spread his image around than through religion? A religion with his symbol in it would be passed down and drawn or made by other believers. Through religion, Bill would have eyes everywhere.

What does that mean for religious belief? Well, it would certainly make a lot of things suspect. For example, in our world, as a Christian I believe the Bible was divinely inspired, but as a critical thinker I know that humans still wrote the Bible even if it was divinely inspired. God didn’t sit down and literally write it out. So I know that human perceptions and beliefs greatly influenced how the Bible was written. I then have to figure out what to believe or what parts of the Bible I believe were influenced by man or were divinely inspired by God. That in and of itself is already difficult and taxing enough, but now add an immortal chaos demon and/or demigod triangle into the mix, and things become much harder. And that’s only with Christianity! Image realizing that Bill has probably affected all world religions. How would we know what in religion was influenced by Bill, someone who is clearly bad, and what wasn’t? Did Bill just inject his symbol into this religion or did he throw in some other beliefs for his amusement or benefit? It’s certainly a scary thought and makes me glad I don’t exist in a universe where Bill Cipher actually exists.


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One thought on “Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Bill Cipher & Triangular Theology

  1. Pingback: Feminism and Flatland | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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