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?