This is a short list of various head cannon things that I don’t know exactly where to put, but will put them here because I can’t think of a better place of putting them. This little posting is inspired/considered by the audience participation posting by Alistair Young.
So, onto various head cannons!
How old are Celestia and Luna?
At least five thousand years old. This has mostly to do with the Era of Discord, where even the concept of linear time didn’t even exist when it happened. After that, the Two Sisters ruled Equestria, neither claiming the title of queen as they felt that any presumption of the throne of Queen Majesty would be…rude at best.
They are sisters, Celestia is the older sister by at least four to five years of age (as far as they can tell). Prior to their Ascension, Celestia was a unicorn, Luna a pegasus.
How old is Cadence?
742 years old. Whatever time bubble that the Crystal Empire was put into also put one of the last members of the royal family of the Empire into stasis until a few years before Twilight Sparkle’s birth. This pegasus, named Cadence by Princess Celestia, both Ascended and gained her Cutie Mark at the same time. After the time bubble that surrounded the Empire ended, Princess Cadence became the Queen of the Crystal Empire.
Were Celestia and Luna always alicorns, or did they ascend?
They were the first ponies to ascend. They don’t talk about what happened that caused them to ascend, but they didn’t think it was possible to be born an alicorn until Princess Flurry Heart was born.
Have there been other alicorns in the past?
Queen Majesty may have been an alicorn. There may have been others, but the Era of Discord turned the entire history of the era prior to Discord into a historical jumble that makes conspiracy theories of Atlantis look sane and calm by comparison. Before Cadence, there may have been some other ponies that made the step that allowed for ascension, but something happened and they didn’t make it past the next step.
Indeed, until the Ascension of Prince Shining Armor, it seemed impossible for a male to ascend. Or, with the Ascension of Princess Apple Blossom, for an Earth Pony to ascend.
Are Cadance and Twilight immortal?
Yes. In every sense of the term.
(This requires more explanation. Whatever magical/technological power that runs through an alicorn turns them into beings of power that are damn near impossible to kill. They regard radioactive cobalt as an interesting flavoring, strategic nuclear weapons detonated in skin-to-skin contact as annoyances, and anything short of another alicorn or similar being of power isn’t a threat to them. So far, the only beings that reach that category are Tirek and Discord. Or another alicorn.
(You can wound them, you can injure them, you can even knock them out, but you can’t kill an alicorn. All you can do is annoy them enough to deal with the annoyance.)
How much authority do Celestia and Luna have in Equestria?
Thy are the executive branch of the Equestrian government, with different spheres of authority being divided between the two. For example, Princess Celestia is the head of the Foreign Department and the Department of the Treasury, while Princess Luna is the head of the War Department and the Department of Chance (gambling, games of chance, etc, etc, etc). These two divisions are separated into the Day and Night Courts, which are still traditionally held in the day and night respectively.
There is a process for impeachment and removing the Two Sisters from power that has been codified in the Equestrian Constitution, but it has never been seriously considered. Even the most Opposition member of the Equestrian Parliament knows that to even hint at an impeachment would be the end of their political career.
Does Shining Armor rule the Crystal Empire alongside of Cadance?
After his Ascension, Prince Shining Armor remained Prince Consort of the Crystal Empire. Princess Cadence would never waste his talents or his skills, but he is still only a consort. If Cadence were to die or be rendered unable to rule, Princess Flurry Heart would be next in line for the throne.
Ponies and Equestrian Culture
Are there still cultural differences between earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns, or is the culture homogeneous by the time shown in canon? Are there cultural stereotypes (positive or negative)?
This is…complicated. After the technology to allow for cortical stacks was developed in 1099 ANM (After Nightmare Moon), the first pony to swap species happened soon after. For the most part, there are more cultural differences between the various species in the Equestrian governments than what are commonly called the Three Races of Ponies.
Cultural stereotypes tend to be more based along the governments, and go like this-
- Equestrians are happy, shiny beings that think that everything can be solved, fixed, or hugged into being good.
- The Griffin Moot is regarded the same way most Americans think of the British-sort of like us, but weird. They have a strange government, they eat strange foods, and they get upset over things that make no sense at all to sensible beings.
- The Zebra Kingdoms are full of…not quite shifty, not quite scammers, but that stereotype of “always count your hooves after you make a deal with a zebra” keeps showing up. It doesn’t help that the average governmental stability of the Kingdom resembles a spastic colon.
- The Senate and Minotaur Republic is full of minotaurs and other beings that are paranoid as fuck about mental manipulation and influence technologies. Messing with memetics there can get you in serious trouble, and this even includes advertising.
Can all unicorns learn all spells, given the time and effort spent practicing them, or is magical talent usually limited in some way?
It’s limited in two ways. The first is sheer power-you might know the spell proper, but if you don’t have the power to cast the spell…well, you know how.
The second is that every unicorn has a trick, a small subset of spells that they are very good at. Princess Twilight Sparkle is exceptionally good at transformation spells. Princess Cadence is exceptionally good at emotional manipulation spells. Rarity (when she was still alive) had only above-average magical ability, but she had a trick of working with gems and crystals that almost reached the point of being Earth Pony magic.
Which leads us to…
Earth pony magic: Does it exist? What is it?
It exists, and the most obvious forms are what’s called the Cornucopia Effect and the general ability of Earth Ponies to manipulate things with their hooves and lips better than the other two races of pony kind. The Cornucopia Effect is simply that plants grow better and faster when tended by Earth Ponies. You could, in theory, raise corn in the desert if you had enough water and enough Earth Ponies to keep the effect going. Indeed, the concept of agriculture as humans think of it (fertilizer, crop rotation, etc, etc, etc) never really happened until the Ministry of Innovation started to do research.
What isn’t obvious is the Earth Pony ability to call and manipulate soil and minerals. Earth Pony miners could find metals by the simple fact they could call for the metals and the metals would answer. This is what rock farming does-Earth Ponies would call for the stones they needed, and the land would answer by generating the rocks they needed. They could also directly manipulate the land, carving canons and creating hills when they wanted them. However, large-scale manipulations like that required large numbers of Earth Ponies, which resulted in a much more “communal” culture among them.
This also resulted in the long-term insularity of Earth Ponies in comparison to the other pony races. Until the Reordering in 1018 ANM, there was a long and somewhat…violent tradition among the Earth Ponies that the only things that the other races needed to know about what Earth Pony magic could do was the Cornucopia Effect. There were always stories of “some other pony” that told too much to a unicorn or a pegasus and Something Happened that ended in a messy sort of way.
After the Reordering, the existence of Precursor technology and how it interacted with ponies caused a lot of the cultural prohibitions to fall to the wayside.
(Hat-tip to Estee for the concept.)
Some pony families we’ve seen seem to have naming conventions, and others don’t appear to, which is more common? Are there reasons for one or the other?
If you can figure out why this is, there is a whole branch of scholarship in Equestria waiting for you.
Seriously. This still confuses ponies, even with AI support. And, the ability to yell “Rainbow Dash” in a crowd of a dozen Rainbow Dashes and get the right one is still confusing.
How much formal schooling is an average, middle-class pony expected to complete?
This is a tricky question, because for the most part ponies don’t stop learning or engaging in formal schooling. For the most part, the “formal schooling” portion of a pony’s life is a part of their very short childhood, then either leading to college or a trade school or an apprenticeship program after their Cutie Mark comes in. One of the few good things about pony brains is they pick up things very quickly, and usually take less time to learn than humans do.
What’s the average lifespan for a pony? At what age is a pony expected to be independent of their parents?
Usually ponies are “becoming adults” by the time they hit about 5-6 years of age, maybe living in an extended family situation. They’re probably going to school, building up the savings to get their own place, etc, etc, etc, and are usually on their own with their own place to live by the time they hit 10 years old.
Average lifespan is mixed up with the issues of cortical stacks and the ability to move pony consciousness to other bodies. Assuming you don’t do silly things, the average biological pony body is rated to about 300 or so years of life. And, this assumes you don’t use various life extension technologies that are out there.
Are there roughly an equal number of male and female ponies?
Once upon a time, there was a slow but continual trend towards a high female-to-male ratio in births. This was due to The Most Special Spell, which allowed to mares to have a foal of their own. Unfortunately, this foal was always female, as the spell didn’t allow for the creation of a “Y” chromosome. This caused a slow but steady (and worrying) shift to a ratio of about 1:4 male to female, and the rate slowly kept increasing.
By the time uterine replicators and genetic engineering technology became common among ponies, the ratio began to change again. This was partially cultural, and partially subtle manipulation, and the current ratio works out to about 2:3 male to female.
How informed are most ponies about things that happen in other parts of Equestria? What about other parts of the world?
They’re as informed as they want to be in what happens. The Wired has a lot of news on it, enough that the average pony has quite a few filters on their muse to determine what particular news shows up. There are still newspapers, but they’re mostly content aggregators and opinion sources (the Equestrian news tradition is much more British than American).
Other nations have news on the basis of what they need and what they want. One of the major aspects of the Senate and Minotaur Republic is that the libel laws are taken very seriously. The subtle character assassination that happens in Equestrian or Zebra papers will rack you up some pretty major fines if you tried to publish in the Republic.
The Main Characters
How old are the Mane Six? Spike? The CMC?
Of the Mane 6, only Princess Twilight Sparkle is still alive as of 1740 ANM. Spike is a fully grown dragon and lives on Equestria (he’s a bit too large to easily go into space). The CMC lived out their lives and of them, only Apple Bloom is still around (she was one of the first ponies to try out cortical stack technology). The rest lived normal pony lifespans, and by their own request have only simple gravestones in a graveyard in Ponyville.
The statue in Ponyville’s main square came much, much later.
Did Fluttershy remain on the ground after getting her cutie mark? Were she and Rainbow Dash friends all along, or did they drift apart for a while?
Fluttershy had to go back home after getting her Cutie Mark, but she eventually was able to work out with her family that she had to live on the ground to live up to her mark. She remained friends with Rainbow Dash, and were mostly pen-pals until Rainbow Dash became the weather coordinator for Ponyville.
That Rainbow Dash became Ponyville’s weather coordinator was deliberate on her part, as Rainbow Dash saw Fluttershy as the younger sister she never had.
Rarity and Applejack both seem to have grown up in Ponyville. What were their interactions like before the show?
Mostly “oh, hello”-they ran in different social circles and had different plans with their lives before the Sonic Rainboom and they were polite with each other.
After the Nightmare Moon, the two became much more friendly and discovered how many similarities they had (small business owners, caretakers of younger sisters that don’t seem to have any sense of self preservation, And Then Scootaloo, etc, etc, etc), and they became and remained good friends their entire life. If it was ever romantic, they didn’t act on it because of fear of ruining their friendship.
What do Twilight and Spike consider their relationship to be?
In the early days, it was very much a older sister and younger brother relationship between the two. Which included Twilight Sparkle ignoring things Spike said because he was her younger brother.
By the time they fully grew up, the two settled into a more adult relationship. They still tease each other, but for the most part they respect each others boundaries and space.
When did Pinkie move in with the Cakes? Is she a worker who rents a room, an apprentice, or is there some other relationship?
Pinkie Pie moved into the Cakes house a few months after she got her Cutie Mark. The relationship is officially “apprentice baker,” but there is a quiet agreement that the Cakes are her second family and uses them as a template to know how to act “normally” around other ponies that haven’t grown up exclusively on a rock farm.
She was on good terms with her birth family, just…it didn’t work out. Her parents love her and wish her all the best, but don’t quite get why she is the way she is.
Why didn’t the CMC hang out more/know each other before Call of the Cutie?
They sort of knew each other prior to “Call Of The Cutie,” but it was the formation of the CMC and the perpetual hunt for their Cutie Marks that truly made them friends.
Is Scootaloo an orphan? Will she ever be able to fly?
Scootaloo has two loving pegasus parents that she is absolutely mortified by. Because they’re huge nerds. We’re talking “nerds that even other nerds call nerds” nerds. The sort that plan out hideously obscure Doctor Who cosplay nerds. For a pony that wants to be a Wonderbolt and an athlete and such…she loves them dearly, just that they embarrass her in the ways that only parents can embarrass kids.
She can (and will) eventually be able to fly. The next few growth spurts will finally get her wings to the right size and nothing will be able to stop her from flying like a mad pony.
Will Apple Bloom’s cutie mark involve an apple in some way, even if it’s unrelated to farming or baking?
Oh, yes. (It came out as an apple-shaped gear, and she went into mechanical engineering.)
How is Sweetie Belle’s relationship with their parents different than Rarity’s was?
Not quite the complete opposite, but pretty damn close. At Sweetie Belle’s age, Rarity’s parents were very much helicopter parents. Now, it’s “she’s old enough to be baby sat, Rarity is good at that, let’s take a trip!”
There may be issues of delusions of competence in Rarity’s family tree.
Side and Background Characters
Is Mr. Cake the father of the Cake twins or not?
Yes, and you can blame Discord for the genetic mess that ponies are when reproduction happens. Two Earth ponies having a pegasus and unicorn foal? Not even particularly remarkable.
Are Big Mac and Cheerilee an item, romantically?
After quite a bit of therapy from the Love Poison incident, and a few ponies being told to keep their shipping noses out of their relationship, they eventually got together and got married. Four children.
How did Prince Blueblood get his title?
I’m not breaking out the genealogy for this, or the titles and patents of nobility required, but Prince Blueblood is in line for the throne of Equestria. If he wanted it. And was completely insane enough to try for it. The title is a bit of a courtesy one.
Is Silver Spoon equally as bad as Diamond Tiara?
She’s more a follower to Diamond Tiara, and desperately wants to be accepted by the Right Ponies, which Diamond Tiara is. Once she got away from Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon found a much healthier set of role models and immediately started to be a much nicer pony.
Is Zecora’s magic common among zebras?
Potion making and alchemy is their primary form of magic. In terms of how common it is…it’s about a fifth of the population that has the right marks and the right skills to pull it off.
Why does Daring Do publish her stories as fiction?
First, it serves as refuge in audacity. There’s no way that Daring Do could have done all the things that she’s done! And, A.K. Yearling can’t be Daring Do, she wears glasses and a different hat!
Second, it serves as a way of putting out a subtle warning about certain kinds of dangerous things. Think about if vampires were real, and Dracula was written as a manual on how to hunt and kill vampires.
Third, fiction-especially best selling fiction-pays a lot more than saving the world. It’s very hard to get a grant to find the Lost Tomb Of The Breezies, and all that paperwork and glad-handling takes time that could be better put saving the world.
Do you have a strong headcanon for any non-speaking or one line background ponies that you want to share?
Lyra is not obsessed with hands. And, she likes sitting that way.
Her name is DERPY DOO.
Does Equestria differentiate between speaking and non-speaking species, in terms of respect, rights, and legal responsibilities? Is there some other line or scale used? (For example, how are cows classified? Diamond Dogs? A chimera?)
The first, and biggest thing about the differentiation is what happens under the Treaty of Menagerie. The short version of the treaty is “if it can speak and think, you cannot eat it” for carnivores. (Princess Luna has put it pithy quite a few times that thinking and speaking are sometimes mutually exclusive.) This leads to quite a bit of hunting of monsters by griffins, because that’s the only real source of meat for them.
Next, there is a tier of sapience that happens on Equestria-fully sapient beings like ponies, griffins, minotaurs, zebras, yaks, buffalo, diamond dogs, dragons, etc, etc, etc. Then there are the “almost” sapient beings-cows, sheep, pigs, goats, etc, etc. The “almost” sapient could be uplifted to fully sapient, but there’s a long, long ethical debate going on about this. It’s known that the Senate and Minotaur Republic has offered to uplift goats to fully sapient, but the goats have continually refused, preferring their status as partners under the minotaurs. The final tier of sapient is animals-dogs, most animals we’d consider wild on Earth, and such. They aren’t sapient, and for the most part are about as smart as the animals on Earth.
For monsters…well, most of them know about the Treaty of Menagerie, and the ones that still eat sapient flesh tend to have accidents if they ever leave their territory.
Do other speaking species form their own nations, or are all nations largely integrated, with some having larger populations of a species than others?
It varies a great deal. Equestria is a fully integrated nation with a pony majority. The species that aren’t ponies that still live in Equestria tend to either not want to participate in governance (this is mostly the position of deer and buffalo), or do participate in their own ways (other, non-pony species tend to have racial voting blocs).
The Griffin Moot is mostly griffins, with a leavening of ponies and zebras. The Zebra Kingdoms are almost entirely zebra, with a small but significant minority of diamond dogs. The Senate and Minotaur Republic is almost entirely minotaurs, with a few of the other races involved. And, the Changeling Empresses are absolute monarchs with the few non-changings being there to be farmed.
Are minotaurs related to cows at all?
The similarity is further than humans to the great apes, but there is a lot of close genetic ties between the two. Not quite enough to allow for interbreeding, but close enough that they are almost in the same genus.
Do all zebras rhyme?
Not really, in Zebrican. Something about the Zebrican language’s grammar makes it that when a native Zebrican speaker learns another language, rhyming and poetry tends to be a lot easier for the Zebra.
Do zebra cutie marks work the same way as pony cutie marks?
They tend to be more…generic than pony Cutie Marks. Zebra Cutie Marks tend to cluster around about twenty to thirty archetypes, with about sixty or so separate symbols of modification that are secondary to the main mark. Zecora, for example, has the spiral symbol of alchemy and magic, with the secondary markers of the rayed sun that shows her to be an explorer.
Do any species have types of magic other than ponies and zebras?
Griffins are cloud manipulators as much as pegasus are, including the ability to manipulate clouds of anything. Deer seem to have a much closer tie to plant growing processes than other races. Diamond Dogs have a variation on the Earth Pony ability to call the land, mostly they can search and detect things underground with much more capability than other races. The yaks have a phenomenal weather control ability, mostly centered around snow and cold.
The other races don’t have magic, but there is some improved capability that is magical.
Is the lack of buffalo presence in Equestria cultural, or simply because most pony towns aren’t built to accommodate a full-grown buffalo?
It’s a combination of the two factors. Buffalo are huge (by Equestrian standards), they tend to like dryer climates with lots of space to move around in, and they are extremely claustrophobic by any standards.
The few off-world buffalo colonies required quite a bit of effort by the Equestrian government, but they do have the right to colonize like any other species.