Musings on History


Hello, everyone. I’m Poetical, and I’m a new contributor to the blog. I’d like to start my reign of textwall off with something a bit serious, though, so… Casual fans and the weak of heart need not follow after the break, because it’s time to talk about the history of Equestria!

(There’s been a bit of ambiguity from the writers on the canonical timeline, so please allow me a bit of slack on this entry. Feel free to discuss any differing interpretations or corrections in the comments!)


Pre-Equestrian History, and an Overview of the Pony Races

We know from Hearth’s Warming Eve (S2E11) that our little ponies didn’t always live in the harmonious, colourful land of Equestria. Before Equestria’s founding, the state of things was quite different. The ponies were, prior to the founding, divided into three distinct tribes: Unicorns, Pegasi, and Earth Ponies. They cooperated, albeit somewhat begrudgingly, through a series of agreements and obligations vaguely reminicent of Medieval Feudalism.

The Unicorns’ part in this system was the maintanence of the day/night cycle. This is explained in the show as “raising the Sun” each morning, and “raising the Moon” each night. I’m sure that’s just a simplification, however, as it would imply that the planet our beloved six heroines inhabit is flat! I’ll just say that they maintaned a stable rotational period for the planet, which would otherwise (for reasons unknown) have faltered without their efforts.

The magic of the Pegasi allows them the powers of flight and weather manipulation (ungupulation?). It manifests through their wings (much like a Unicorn’s horn) for flight. For the manipulation of clouds, their entire body acts as a magical conduit, allowing pegasi we’ve seen in modern times to trot, jump, roll, or lie effortlessly upon the clouds of Cloudsdale. The Pegasi managed the weather, ensuring that the proper amount of rain, snow, fog, etc. fell upon the world at appropriate times.

The Earth Ponies worked the lands of the world, planting and harvesting crops as food. The innate, and very subtle, magic of their race grants them what I would call “a green hoof.” That is to say, they’re very adept at agriculture, and seem to be the only race capable of sustaining food production to match the needs of the entire society. This was their tithe to the Unicorns and Pegasi.

This system of exchanged goods or services among the three tribes seems to have more or less worked since time immemorial. There came, however, a turning point. Distrust among the tribes inexplicably began to grow, perhaps due in part to the personalities or opinions of their leaders at this time.

The growing distrust manifested itself as a powerful blizzard, brought about by Wendigos – etherial spirits usually associated with Winter and famine. Famine became, indeed, increasingly present, as the blizzard quickly rendered food production almost non-existant. A meeting was held between the leaders of the tribes, and no consensus could be met. Without a supply of food from the Earth Ponies, the other two tribes immediately widthdrew their contributions to the “feudal” system, and society collapsed.

Each leader set out, with aide or adjutant in tow, in search of lands unknown, in hopes of saving their respective tribes from the famine and cold. As it turns out, all three tribes stumbled upon the land that is modern-day Equestria. Squabbling among the leaders resumed, and, inevitably, the aforementioned blizzard began to encroach upon the new land. Seeking refuge in a nearby cave, they argued ad nauseum, until the magic of the Wendigos froze the very leaders themselves.

Finally, thanks to the somewhat disturbing respite from arguing, the subordinates of the leaders were able to speak freely amongst themselves. Being generally much more amiable ponies, although embittered towards the (until now!) hot-headed leaders, they quickly became good friends. The magic of their friendship overthrew the Wendigo’s terrible blizzard, warmth returned to the land (as well as the hearts of the three leaders), and that’s how Equestria was made!


Early Equestria, and Discord

(Warning: Mild Speculation Ahead!)

It is unclear when, or from whence, Discord came. Based on what I can glean from the canon (the CMC appeared to spark his return with their petty fighting, S2E1), some type of disagreement, perhaps a narrowly avoided societal collapse in Equestria, allowed his entry into the world. After he was allowed to manifest, he spared no time in subjugating the ponies there to a hefty dose of his trademarked chaos. This was a period of non-linear time, the sun and the moon coming and going seemingly at random. The laws of physics and, presumably by extension, magic became indecipherable, if not nonexistant.

This lasted for an unknowable amount of time, until at some point, sisters Celestia and Luna undertook what essentially amounts to a rebellion. They discovered the Elements of Harmony (I like to imagine them doing this wearing brown, Stetson fedoras and brandishing whips), and unlocked the secret of the Elements’ magic. Empowered by the Elements, the sisters were able to rise up and overthrow Discord, encasing him in stone. This is where I’m assuming Celestia and Luna were able to ascend to a state of godhood, effectively replacing Discord, and bringing an immediate end to the chaos afflicting the world.*

The two sisters choose to assume the responsibility of maintaining the day/night cycle, their godhood making it a two-pony job, and freed the other unicorns to persue whatever interests they wanted (like making dresses!). From that point, they ruled Equestria fairly and absolutely, until…

* A differing interpretation is that Luna and Celestia created the entire universe, and have always been present, watching from afar; they simply chose this time to appear in the world and intervene. I prefer the “ascended to godhood” intrepretation, simply because it helps explain why they’re suddenly and permanently presiding over the planet after the fall of Discord, but were apparently not around before this.


“Middle” Equestria, and the Fall of Princess Luna

Over time, the younger goddess Luna grew envious of Celestia. The ponies of Equestria cherished the daytime – attributed to the older sister – but showed no such respect for the night, choosing instead to sleep during this time. This is understandable, given that equines are generally diurnal creatures, but Luna steadily exhibited less and less tolerance for this biological fact. Eventually, her envy and spite magically manifested themselves in the form of Nightmare Moon.

Corrupted by the venomous feelings she had been harboring, Luna was vulnerable to this magical malady, and lost herself in Nightmare Moon. She rose up against her older sister, and attempted a coup. Celestia, presumably feeling as if she had no other choice, used the Elements of Harmony to trap Luna in the moon for a thousand years. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.


Up to the Present

For the following thousand years, Celestia ruled on her own, shouldering Luna’s responsibilities in stride. Then Granny Smith totally founded Ponyville and became best pony. Shortly before Luna’s inevitable release, Celestia choose a magically gifted young filly to take under her wing as a protégé. After training her in the arts of magic, she sent her talented pupil to live in Ponyville, to discover the magic of friendship. It is with this magic that she hoped her pupil and her future friends could save Luna from Nightmare Moon, and redeem her spirit.

And thus, we arrive at the start of Friendship is Magic.

I plan on making these hyper-analytical pieces a recurring thing, at least for a few installments. Next I’d like to tackle the mechanics of magic in the Gen 4 universe. Any suggestions for aspects of the IP I could cover?


  • That was an excellent primer on Pony history! Great job piecing things together from the scraps and bits we’ve been privy to thus far in the show! If this is the kind of article you’ll be doing for, I’m happy and excited to see what you come up with next!

  • “Ungupulation” is great! I used “Ungulfactoring Consent” in a fanfic of mine. Oh, and the Hitchhiker’s reference is great too. I wonder how many references I missed…

  • SurfPengin

    Welcome to DH and let me offer my congratulations on an excellent article! being the fluff geek that I am, I love reading this sort of thing.

    I’m also looking forward to seeing your treatise on pony magic. I’m wondering if (like me) you think that earth pony magic is FAR more powerful than anyone gives them credit or…

  • Present Perfect

    It’s less likely — I won’t say impossible — since HWE that Celestia and Luna created the universe. It would require a lot more explanation to pull off, at any rate. They did not seem to be present at all during the events chronicled by the play (which, given that it’s a millennia-old pageant, it’s possible that there are historical inaccuracies, but there’s a limit to how far one can take that), but their images on the banner at the end suggest… something. And those are their images, check out the “defeat of Discord” stained-glass window in Return of Harmony 1.

  • YouAreSuperMario

    I would love it if you did analyzed each pony race. There has been a few questions I’m been pondering myself, like how Fluttershy is a Pegasus pony yet prefers animals (which is more of a Earth pony role)*. And what role does Unicorns have in current Equestria? A hyper-analytical piece about each pony race would be awesome :)

    * I know Fluttershy started off as a Earth pony pre production, I’m just wondering how it fits in the current universe’s canon.

  • Very good and interesting analaysis.

    Although I disagree that their world is round.
    We don’t know, and we don’t really need to know ;)

    Being a magical world that needs interaction, changing the weather, seasons and day/night, their world is probably not like our world.
    It seems like all of the rules of reality are subject to change through magic, Discord is proof of that. As well as the Princess’.
    So it might not be round. Or it could be round, but needs the celestial bodys magically moved around it.

  • anon

    Now that you mention it, maybe the ponies’ world really is flat…? Otherwise, you’d think ponies on opposite sides of the world would be snagging the sun and moon from each other all the time, and when Luna threw her hissy-fit half of the world got baked by nonstop daytime…

    Or maybe Luna really did fry half the planet, and that’s why Celestia dumped her on the moon.

    But I like the flat-earth idea, personally.

    And Derpy needs to move so I can see what I’m typing…

  • Present Perfect

    The world is totally round! Not only does Chancellor Puddinghead have a line saying as much, Twilight has a globe!

    • anon

      Ahh, forgot about that. :/ Still, all this leaves me wondering how the other half of the world is faring.

      • Poetical

        They’re faring the same way people on opposite sides of our planet fare. :D

        • Present Perfect

          Third world Equestria!

          Doesn’t mean the planet’s as big as ours, certainly. Maybe that’s where dragons and griffins live.

    • derpymaths

      yeah i dont think the pony controlled seasons suggests a flat world. maybe the world is tidally locked with its host star, which is a pretty far-fetched scenario for an earth-like planet, but would explain the eternal night (they’re on the far side) w/o celestia’s magic to keep it forcibly spinning around. but w/o the lock, celestia would need only spin the world once and there on in it would just keep rotating all on its own. aaah i love wild speculation.

  • Anonymous

    Very nice article. It pretty much confirms the conclusions I had come to myself, but with a few exceptions. I think the current Equestria was the home of Discord before the ponies moved in, and when they did, he took control. Luna and Celestia, impartial Gods at the time (which would explain the flag) were awoken by the suffering and decided to intervene. But thats just my theory.

    And when it comes to the world being round, I like to think that it is actually Earth (it has to be because of the mention of the Orion constellation) sometime in the future after humans have gone extinct. After our extinction, our technology and architecture was incorporated into pony culture, explaining the presence of foam fingers and tools best suited for an animal with hands, not hooves.

  • Grez the Lizard Lord

    Great article, exactly the type of thing I’ve been waiting for someone to do, but was too meek to suggest. Your ideas are pretty much in line with what I had presumed, and then some. Can’t wait for your magic article, here’s hoping for explanation of the subtler magic of the Pegasi and Earth Ponies.

  • Anonymous

    Where does Starswirl the Bearded fit into all this? Did Luna know him personally?

    • elizemail

      The unicorn assistant in the “Hearth” episode (Twilight) mentioned him during the scene in the cave where she tells the other two (Applejack and Fluttershy) about the Windigos. It appears that back then he was a teacher. It seems funny to me that he existed during the time of the great famine and yet took no part in the proceedings whatsoever. I suppose he was as famous back then as he is now ;3

  • elizemail

    I feel like they left so many things they could work with in the future as far as how things were created (which I think would be a great deal more entertaining than episodes like “Mysterious Mare-Do-Well” >_>’) One of the things I don’t believe have been addressed enough is the Everfree Forest. I find it very intriguing that it is the only place that is self sustained and needs no magic to nurture it. It was brought up once again during this newest episode where we encounter more poni-verous creatures. The writers seem to be able to skate over what I consider to be a glaringly ambiguous element to their world by continuously fortifying reasons for the ponies to fear it, thereby postponing its having a role in the plot besides “Oh you mean that scary place we never talk about unless something’s making us go in?” Does the Everfree Forest lead to the rest of the world? Perhaps it only encases what the ponies consider “Equestria”. Oh, one other thing I thought of. Once the ponies figured out it was all their disputing that caused the great storm in their original homes, shouldn’t they have wanted to return and build there as well as in the new land? Who’s living there now if not the ponies? I think it’s safe to say that we would all like a nice long visit to the Canterlot library. Twilight is just not hitting the books like she used to. All this freaking friendship is distracting her from what’s really important :P

  • grayarchon

    Great article! I look forward to seeing more of these in the future. Personally, I’ve chosen the history from Ponies Make War by AestheticB as my headcanon, mostly because Titan is awesome.

    I’d like to see perhaps a geography article? I know we were given some help there recently with Granny Smith’s map.

    I wish Twilight had started her pony history lectures, and invited all us bronies.

  • iisaw

    Great article! I can’t find fault with anything you’ve set down as it all seems pretty reasonable, even the speculative bits. (The sisters were totally wearing fedoras and wielding whips when seeking out the elements!)

    The one major question that remains is the origin of the alicorn sisters. I really hope we learn about that sometime.

    I don’t think we’ll ever get a satisfactory answer as to how it is possible to “raise the sun” when the world is a sphere.

  • Jacob Ellinger

    Yes I understand this is complete conjecture but whatever. it sounds cool and I don’t see the show giving us much to go with any time soon so here is my head Canon about Starswirl the bearded.

    The Amnimophic spell is a complex spell that (in the simplest of terms)allows the user to keep track of multiple experiments at one time via self writing scrolls and by sending those reports to the caster during predetermined “activators” created when the spell was cast.
    Invented by Starswirl the bearded nearly three hundred years ago during the end of the Griffin wars and was not fully integrated as a standard spell into the scientific pursuits until the signing of the Alicorn peace agreement of 763 thirty five years later.

    During the height of it’s use in 814, and the time leading up to that; many ponies lost jobs, many well trained scientist who had spent most of there livelihood studying and training to work in labs had found that the jobs they thought would be waiting for them when they finished there schooling had disappeared, still others who would have otherwise worked as laborers for those scholars lost there jobs as well, with no need for sample handlers or even writers the Equestrian market took a nose dive.
    This inevitably led up to labor disputes between Scientist who used the spell and the workers that claimed it was unfair to use.

    It is ironic that the same spell that caused millions of ponies to lose there jobs and still others to work in fields far below there schooling would inevitably create many more jobs just twelve years later than before it’s creation nearly fifty years before.
    Starswirl was once asked if he regretted creating the amnimophic spell, he was quoted as saying “technological and magical advancements can not and should not be stopped on the basis of money and the pursuit of work, but rather used to create a better world to work in”.

    Starswirl’s words would ring true when through the use of his spell a new compound was discovered that cured Cushing’s Disease(a).
    Now millions of jobs for workers and scholars alike where created practically over night.
    Thousands of work hooves where needed to pack and ship the new vaccine as well as scientist to work in labs to create the vaccine, which inevitably meant that more labs had to be built, which created even more jobs for builders and craftquines.

    Before the invention of the amnimophic spell Many experiments could only be theorized as to what the results would be, there was no accurate way (for example) to take test of how rapidly the morphing proses of flesh to stone from the stare of a cockatrice without seriously endangering any scientist or workers in the vicinity, scientist could only make observations from safety, even then the data gathered differed greatly from pony to pony depending on the pony observing.
    Still other experiments required the organization of thousands to calculate the migration of birds, but because one pony may have a diferant perception of how fast the migration was, or even what the precise direction flocks of birds where flying data could only be “ball parked” at best and completely wrong at it’s worse.

    It was in 767 when Starswirl realized the full implications of the amnimophic spell, he realized that a scientist in Stalliongrad could measure sunspots and receive data that could later be compared to results received by a scientist in the Fillypines and find that they where exactly the same.
    Because of Starswirl’s invention Data gathered by one scientist need not differ from another doing the same experiment, Starswirl was once quoted as saying “it may be possible to to lie using magic but spells never guess”.