Esoteric Symbolism in Disney's 'Gravity Falls'
At first glance Disney XD’s Gravity Falls has all the elements of your every-day, quirky kids show, with its description on Wikipedia stating:
“For their summer vacation, 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are dropped off from their home in Piedmont, California to the fictitious town of Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon to live with their Great Uncle Stan Pines (often shortened to Grunkle Stan), who runs a tourist trap called Mystery Shack. Things are not what they seem in this small town, and with the help of a mysterious journal that Dipper finds in the forest, they begin unraveling the local mysteries.”However, for those who are adept at identifying esoteric symbolism, this “kids” show is actually riddled with occult references that are hidden in plain sight. Some websites such as Vigilant Citizen believe there is a nefarious agenda behind the “subconscious programming” in the show – and with the conspiracy lore behind Disney, one can only wonder what the true intention behind Gravity Falls is.
Sadly, for fans of GF, the show is coming to an end on February 15th, 2016 – so, being huge fans of the show, we’ve decided to put together a mini analysis in celebration of the series, which breaks down some of many symbols and ciphers. Analyzing all of the symbols in GF would be a massive undertaking, but we hope you enjoy this small snapshot…
The Esoteric Symbolism in Disney’s ‘Gravity Falls’:
Grunkle Stan Pines…
Stan is depicted wearing a fez, which members of a fraternal organization known as The Shriners, commonly wear. The Shriners society was established in 1870, is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and is an appendant body to Freemasonry. They describe themselves as “a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth.” Up until 2010, only 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Masons (the highest degree attainable other than the honorary 33rd) or Knight Templars of the York Rite could join the Shriners – even now, in order to become eligible to be a Shriner you must have completed your third and final degree as a Master Mason.
In the show, Stan is a member of The Royal Order of the Holy Mackerel (Gravity Falls’ equivalent to The Shriners), and the symbol on his fez has changed a few times throughout the course of the series.
Some suggest the symbol originally changed, because it was (apparently) offensive to Muslims – so a new symbol was designed. From an esoteric perspective – both symbols could represent many different things.
If you take a look at the first symbol (the image to the left), it appears to be a crescent moon, when – if flipped – looks similar to the Ottoman flag, which relates to the nation of Islam. This symbol wasn’t commonly used until the 20th century, but it dates back to Sumerian times – when the iconography was used to associate with the moon god Sin (Nanna to the Sumerians) and the star (often identified as Venus) with Ishtar (Inanna to the Sumerians).
If you look at the second symbol (the symbol on the right) it could be a clever way of paying homage to Mithra, which is the Zoroastrian angelic Divinity (yazata) of Covenant and Oath. In addition to being the Divinity of Contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing Protector of Truth, and the Guardian of Cattle, the Harvest and of The Waters.
According to Wikipedia:
In Zoroastrian tradition, Mithra evolved from being an all-seeing figure (hence vaguely associated with the Sun) into a divinity co-identified with the Sun itself, effectively taking over Hvare.khshaeta’s role. How or when or why this occurred is uncertain, but it is commonly attributed to conflation with Babylonian Shamash and/or Greek Apollo, with whom Mithra shares other characteristics (e.g. a judicial function). This characteristic is not part of Mithra’s Indo-Iranian inheritance since both the Iranian Avesta and the Indic RigVeda have solar divinities that are distinct from Mithra/Mitra, and in the RigVeda Indian Mitra is likewise not yet co-identified with the Sun.
Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians; modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism.
Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation (see chart below), with ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those “united by the handshake”. They met in underground temples (called mithraea), which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome.
Mithras is also believed to be the Pagan version of Christ, as the mythology of his incarnation follows a similar Zeitgeist.
Mithra has the following in common with Jesus:
- Mithra was born on December 25th of the virgin Anahita.
- The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or “disciples.”
- He performed miracles.
- As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He ascended to heaven.
- Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.
- Mithra is omniscient, as he “hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him.”
- He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
- His sacred day was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper.”
- Mithra “sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers.”
- Mithraism emphasized baptism.
Both ancient mystery schools, and modern day Freemasonry teach of mastering the mind/mind’s eye, and dissolving all fear in order to become a god-man on Earth – and both have strong ties to both angels, and demons – which we will discuss next…
Demons and Gravity Falls…
The GF Wikia describes Bill Cipher, the all-seeing-eye dream demon, by saying:
“Bill Cipher is a triangular dream demon formerly existent only in the mindscape who wished to gain access to the real world. He has been running amok in Gravity Falls, Oregon since being summoned by Stanford Pines over thirty years ago. He is known for his mysterious demeanor and sadistic humor…Trillions of years prior to the events of the series, Bill was trapped inside his own decaying dimension, waiting for the gate between his world and the real world’s to open. He eventually discovered the human race and decided to use them as puppets to help him achieve his goal. The only way for Bill to be seen by humans, is if he projects himself through the Mindscape.”
The show’s creator, Alex Hirsch, claims that Bill is based on the all-seeing-eye on the back of the dollar bill – but it’s interesting to note that in demonology the demon, “Baal/Bael” is believed to speak in a raucous, but well formed voice (like Bill) – and is the head of the infernal powers. He is also the first demon listed in Wierus’ Pseudomonarchia daemonum, and is also the first king of hell with estates in the East.
Demons are a consistent common thread throughout all world religions, and they prey upon fears, and desires for influence in the material world. Demons are believed to exist on the astral realm, and are powerless until summoned, or allowed a human body to be used as a “puppet” (see video clip above).
To summon a demon, you must know it’s particular sigil (“an inscribed or painted symbol considered to have magical power”), and focus upon that intention. This magical practice dates back to King Solomon, who was believed to have summoned and controlled 72-demons.
Mabel and Dipper’s 13th Birthday…
The three-part finale of the show, “Weirdmaggedon“, begins with summer coming to a close, and Mabel and Dipper’s 13th birthday. In Jewish tradition, when a child turns 13 (12 for girls) this is the age where they officially become responsible for fulfilling the Commandments, and must take accountability for all actions from that point forward. The term “bat (or bar) mitzvah” literally means sons or daughters of the Commandments.
Other important esoteric interpretation of the number 13 are as follows…
- The 13th card of the Tarot is the card of Death, and is the most commonly misinterpreted. Death is symbolic of ending a major phase in life, in order to bring about a new beginning of something more valuable or important – simply put, closing one door to open another. The Death card also indicates transformation, change and transition – this alchemical concept (see: 7 steps in Alchemy) relates to spiritual transformation, and the evolution of the soul as well. The Death card is ascribed to the planet Saturn, which is known to be the Lord of Karma, “who reveals what the Soul is seeking to perfect in the present incarnation, in order to foster its own growth and aid in the externalization of the Plan for humanity.” (via: EsotericSaturn)
- On the back side of the dollar bill there are 13 steps in the pyramid of the Great Seal. The motto above the pyramid, which reads “Annuit Coeptis,” has 13 letters; the eagle on the right side has a ribbon in its beak that bears the motto “E pluribus unum,” which contains 13 letters. The eagle has 13 tail feathers, and on its breast there is a shield of 13 stripes. In one talon the eagle holds 13 arrows, and in the other an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 berries. Over the eagle’s head are 13 stars that form the six-pointed “Star of David.”
- In the ancient mystic religions 13 was the characteristic number of participants in many orders and occult groups, including sacred meals – a fact reflected in the size of the original Nazarene Last Supper.
- In the occult science of numerology it is said that, “He who understands the number 13 will be given power and dominion. It is a number of upheaval and destruction; a symbol of power which, if wrongly used, will wreak havoc and destruction upon itself.”
- The 13th letter of the English alphabet is M, which finds its roots in the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “mem” (meaning mother), which was the ancient Phoenician word for water. The ancient Egyptian word for water was “moo.” M is the most sacred of all the letters, for it symbolizes water, where all life began. It is the root of the word “mother,” and relates to the evolutionary destiny of Africans, African-Americans, and all people of African descent who are ruled by the number 13, and believed to be the chosen caretakers of the universe…
40, like 13, symbolizes death with oneself and the spiritual rebirth. It also relates to the 13th Hebraic letter, mem, and (again) the Death card in Tarot – marking completion of a stage. According to French psychoanalyst, René Allendy, 40 represents “the achievement of a cycle in the world, or rather the rhythm of cyclic repetitions in the Universe”.
Relating to the Hebrew Gematria, the number 40 has great significance throughout the Torah and the Talmud. 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal; a new beginning. The number 40 has the power to lift a spiritual state.
According to Aish.com:
“When a person becomes ritually impure, he must immerse in a ritual bath, a mikveh. The Talmud tells us that a mikveh must be filled with 40 se’ahs (a measure of water). Immersion in a mikveh is the consummate Jewish symbol of spiritual renewal.
It is no accident that in the story of Noah, the rain poured for 40 days, and submerged the world in water. Just as a person leaves a mikveh pure, so too when the waters of the flood subsided, the world was purified from the licentiousness which had corrupted it in the days of Noah.
Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and came down with the stone tablets. The Jews arrived at Mt. Sinai as a nation of Egyptian slaves, but after 40 days they were transformed into God’s nation.
According to the Talmud, it takes 40 days for an embryo to be formed in its mother’s womb.
In Kabbalah, 40 represents the four sides of the world, each side containing the ten Sefirot (esoteric powers).
When a rabbinical court finds someone guilty of a crime, the punishment is sometimes lashes, prescribed in the Torah as “forty less one.” The purpose is to bring the offender to a point of change, transition and atonement.
There are 40 days between the first day of Elul, when we begin to blow the Shofar to prepare for Rosh Hashana, until Yom Kippur, the end of the annual teshuva (repentance) period. These 40 days are the most auspicious time for personal growth and renewal.
According to the Talmud (Avot 5:26), at age 40 a person transitions from one level of wisdom to the next. After Moses led the Jewish people for 40 years in the wilderness, he told them: “God has not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, until this day” (Deut. 29:3-4). From here we see that it took the Jewish people 40 years before reaching a full level of understanding.”
We’ve merely scratched the surface with this brief analysis, and there are many more synchronistic symbols and ciphers within this show that contain the secret wisdom of the ages.
In conclusion, whether you’ve watched the show or not, this analysis can serve as a field guide to revisit (or visit) Gravity Falls with new vision. Our world is created in symbols which stimulate the senses, and allows us to create our reality based on the level of consciousness we possess – the more we become aware, the more our reality expands. Inspiration to expand our reality can come from unassuming sources of inspiration, but sometimes these unassuming sources are the best of all