Pony Thought of the Day: Father of the What?

Rewatching “Luna Eclipsed” for the upcoming article, I started thinking about when Twilight refers to Star Swirl the Bearded as “father of the amniomorphic spell,” and specifically what “amniomorphic” might mean. Now, it’s not actually a word, but it’s comprised of two roots that do have meaning:

morphic means “having to do with shape.” A spoomorphic spell would therefore be either a spell that in some way is shaped like spoo, or a spell that makes things spoo-shaped or turns things into spoo.

Amnio- has a couple of possibilities.

The one that’s gotten popular in the fandom is that an amnion is a kind of bowl, which eventually results in the joke that Star Swirl is Harry Potter. There’s just one problem–the Greek word for pottery isn’t amnion, it’s keramos. Amnion was the Greek word for the placenta. Etymologically, yes, it comes from another amnion that was a bowl used to collect the blood from animal sacrifice, but in all modern words it refers to the placenta. The amniotic sac is the membrane that develops into the inner lining of the eggshell in egg-laying animals and the placenta in placental mammals, amniomancy is the art of predicting a baby’s future by examining the afterbirth, and so on.

So, basically, amniomorphic spells? Whatever they are, they’re gross and you probably don’t want one cast on you.

0 thoughts on “Pony Thought of the Day: Father of the What?

  1. If that is the correct etymology, then I'd expect it to be the kind of spell used frequently by some type or other of trained medical professionals. But the impression we're led to have of Starswirl (basically, him being Twilight pre-episode-one) does not suggest that he would be particularly interested in that kind of research. So my guess is if he DID make advances in such a field it was probably more an accident while researching something else or just pursuing some magical quirk he'd found in whatever direction it led him until he stepped back and noticed “hey wait a minute, I bet people could use that spell to ___”.

  2. I don't see anything contradictory in a very dedicated doctor who isn't particularly interested in making friends. In fact, it makes sense–doctors are frequently counseled not to get too emotionally attached to their patients.

    In fact, that's my new fanon: Star Swirl was the pony equivalent to Ignaz Semmelweis (the nineteenth-century obstetrician who revolutionized delivery and drastically reduced the risk of death for mothers and infants in hospital births by suggesting that maybe doctors should wash their hands between performing an autopsy and delivering a baby). The amniomorphic spell is something simple and straightforward that drastically reduces the dangers of pregnancy and/or birth–so simple and straightforward that only someone utterly and brilliant could have thought of it.

    (As an aside, I love simple, obvious things that nobody noticed until a genius came along and pointed them out. My favorite example: It took no less a scientific genius than Sir Isaac friggin' Newton to come up with the idea of putting a little flap in your front door so that the dog or cat can let themselves in and out without bothering you.)

  3. Yeah, that's kind of what I was going for but didn't want to say too specifically. So I like your theory. Still, I feel like the impression we're given is that he'd have been more interested in “pure” research–you know, like a physicist as compared to someone designing new computer chips. He made huge contributions to magic *theory*, but we've only ever heard one mention of a pracitcal thing he did (two if you count the dangerously-incomplete destiny-switching spell).

  4. Hmm, I see what you're saying. Yeah, he could have been more of a biologist than a physician. Or living long enough ago to predate specialization–he might have been a “natural philosopher” or something.

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