I’ve noticed several postings over the last couple of months about the world of Ponies. Not the country of Equestria, but the world it’s situated on.
Equestria is a nation occupying most of the landmass of a single continent, according to the official map. There are arrows on that map pointing towards other 'places' which we can infer to be other nations, and probably other continents. These include lands of Gryphons, Dragons, and somewhere out there is Saddle Arabia, and wherever the Zebras come from. Likely other pony nations given there are references to places like Trottingham, and the like that are not shown on the map of Equestria. The nation of Equestria maps reasonably well to a distorted North America, as I showed in a prior blog entry. Because of this, I think it would be safe to say that the rest of the world might map reasonably well to a distorted Earth.
But that doesn't mean this is *our* Earth. The world is occasionally implied to be Earth with a few references to that name, however given that they are called 'Earth Ponies' that name isn't that surprising. We use the term 'Earth' for our own planet to refer to the Germannic Goddess Jörð, mother of Thor. (This gets Anglicized as Jord, as those who use the Romanized English alphabet rarely recognize the ð symbol anymore. It's the 'thorn' that represents the 'th' sound, not just a fancy d. So it's more like Joerth, which you can see turns into Earth quite easily.) As such it's the cognate to Gaea (Greek), Terra (Latin), Danu (Celtic), Toci (Aztec), etc. And each of these cultures referred to the world itself as literally whatever goddess of the world they had. So it would be quite natural for the ponies to use some word that would *translate* to Earth for our understanding.
There's a lot of things that point towards this world being some place quite different from here. The ponies exercise extreme control over the environment they are living in. At the time of the Hearth’s Warming Eve story, only Earth Ponies could grow food, Pegasi control the weather, and Unicorns raise the sun and moon. Let's delve into those bits individually.
Let’s start with the food situation. Applejack makes an issue about how the plants in the Everfree Forest grow all by themselves, and this upsets her. That mention, plus the Hearth’s Warming Eve story, gives the impression that Ponies can’t eat ‘wild’ plants, or at least can’t derive primary nutrition from them. This is not a case of squeamishness, but seems to indicate that at least at one point only pony-grown plants were edible.
Add to this that there are several creatures roaming the world that appear to have a completely different digestive system, such as able to consume aluminum silicate compounds (like gems). Dragons, of course, but also basilisks, and possibly also diamond dogs. Then there are the Windigoe and the Changelings that subsist on non-physical food of various emotions. They are just as alien to the dragon-types as they are from the pony-types. And we have no real idea how creatures like the timberwolves work. I have a suspicion about them, that I'll deal with in another essay.
Next is the weather. This time Rainbow Dash talks about the ‘wild’ weather of the Everfree. While the plants growing on their own upsets Applejack, the natural weather of the Everfree seems to frighten *all* the ponies. There seems to be some kind of memory of natural weather being flat out dangerous to ponies. Not just storms, but *all* natural weather.
Yet the cotton candy clouds and chocolate rain of Discord is looked at as a nuisance. A really annoying nuisance, but not something to raise the alarm over. The mane 6 don't think about reporting these bizarre events, it's Celestia who has to call for them.
At some point Celestia and Luna take over the sun and moon control but even before them both these celestial bodies are under direct control. Plus there are indications that they cannot naturally be both in the sky at once, as Celestia can’t raise the sun if Nightmare Moon/Luna keeps the moon in the sky. There’s some balance issue that means putting both in the sky at the same time is dangerous. Interestingly, while it is noted that while the moon up the sun can’t be raised, but no indication of whether the reverse is true.
Even Discord kept them apart but he did literally raise and lower the sun and moon, the moon raising up from the horizon, and then dropping back down to the *same point* on the horizon, with the sun coming up and down the same path. Likely the normal paths that Celestia and Luna put them on move from horizon to horizon rather than from the same point on the horizon, as Discord is… Discord.
This of course means this can’t be a normal solar system. Assuming we're dealing with a round world, it appears that the sun and the moon occupy a very similar orbit around the world and would in some way collide if one ran faster or slower than the other. Which means the sun is a great deal closer to the world than our sun, and therefore is also much smaller.
Which brings up the point of it being a round world. There are several diagrams that are shown pinned to walls in various locations (Twilight's study/lab, Celestia's School for Advanced Unicorns, etc.) that look very much like planetary diagrams and multi-body orbits. Unless these are studying *other* worlds, it's likely these are supposed to be the pony world. As I mentioned above though, due to the behavior of the sun and moon, this is not a normal system at first glance.
Well, lets’ add something more. In every generation of My Little Pony, the ponies are always from somewhere else originally. G1’s My Little Pony ‘n Friends explicitly state that the ponies came to Dream Valley 500 years previous to the start of the series. G1’s My Little Pony Tales also refer to pony settlers coming to Ponyland sometime in the past. G2 had no series, and G3 has Ponyville built around a castle that had been standing at least a thousand years, at which time no ponies were in the area. And now G4 has the whole Hearth’s Warming Eve play about the founding of Equestria several thousand years ago. At no point have we *ever* seen where ponies are really from. They're always settlers, always non-native.
Now let us add that together. Ponies are not native to Equestria. Ponies can’t eat native plants, and there are creatures there with a wildly different metabolism than ponies. Natural weather is considered dangerous and scary. And the sun and moon appear to be artificial satellites used to manipulate the day/night cycle. Specifically, the sun produces the day by providing light and heat, and the moon is apparently able to *block* the majority of sunlight from reaching Equestria by some unknown process.
This has all the hallmarks of a terraforming project, and given how prevalent pony-like metabolisms are now, one nearing the end of the project. The world was considerably more hostile to the ponies at the beginning, with weather, plant and animal life all being inimical to the ponies. This has been slowly changed and is almost completed, but cultural ‘fingerprints’ of prior struggles are all over the way the ponies react to natural phenomena. Obviously unnatural weather, however, is taken in stride.
The real star this planet is orbiting around would have to be the wrong spectra or distance from the planet, and the rotation of the planet is somehow 'off' what the ponies want in a day/night cycle. So an artificial sun is used to provide the right amount of sunlight, and an artificial moon that somehow blocks the ‘wrong’ sun (and side-effect of blocking the artificial sun) enforces the correct cycle time. The technology/magic necessary to produce those satellites seems to be completely beyond what the ponies have now, which could mean that they’ve ‘degenerated’ and have lost all that technology, along with the technology/magic needed to travel to this world. But another thought is that they are *part* of the terraforming, a cog in the great machine, but not the ones that set it in motion. Basically that there is some kind of ‘Preserver’ race (as per the Star Trek original series episode: The Paradise Syndrome) that is using the ponies to terraform worlds for them.
Heck, if you take it to the extreme side, the various shifts in appearance of the ponies between 'generations' may be that Preserver race making modifications to their terraforming engine. Possibly the project has run long and the Preserver race is no longer paying attention (or is no longer able to interfere), which is how the unicorns and eventually the alicorns gained control of the two satellites. Of course, the entire idea of 'Ancient Astronauts' is not a new one, and shows up pretty often in fiction and various fringe subcultures.
Personally, if I was to write fan-fiction on this topic, I would prefer the idea that dragons were the original terraformers, and the source of the sun/moon machines. Their lifespans are more conducive to this kind of project. But their commitment to the project faltered, the ponies showed up later and took control over a process half-done. This would be why Celestia and Luna need to constantly manipulate the sun and moon, to keep them from going back to their 'normal' cycle their creators set up.