Light a candle, but do not mourn; we all respawn

I need to talk about Pixandria. And this may require a bit of set-up, and you all wondering why on earth I’m talking about Minecraft of all things, but the quote in the title has stayed with me for three months now and it’s still as profound as the day I read it. I geuinely have not stopped thinking about those words and what they signify. The tears I have shed over them is uncountable.

We’re coming up to the March equinox, the time when I wrap Wesir up in black wrappings for the next six months until the September equinox and the return of the sun. I’ve done this for so long I can’t even remember when I started it. But it marks that point in the season when the light year becomes the dark year. Heru-sa-Aset flees to the Duat to protect HIs father, leaving Sobek here to keep things running and make the land fertile.

And during Senut tonight, Hekate came to me, and these words returned. On the cusp of the dark year, She returns, draped all in black, Her hands gently taking mine in hand, as She whispers spells and tells me to prepare for the coming darkness. The contemplation of Wesir’s death and His mysteries, and through all of that, those words keep ringing. Light a candle, but do not mourn; we all respawn.

You don’t expect a stupid block game like Minecraft to give you deep and profound thoughts about death and the afterlife, and yet, here we are. I also didn’t expect how profoundly Pixandria would cling to my heart, and yet, here we are. And I say this like you know what I’m talking about, but that’s definitely not the case. So let me explain where Pixandria comes from and why it matters so much to me.

I’d started playing Minecraft with my partner in mid-2020 as a way to play games together and hang out, and I fell in love with it, so being a youtube person, I began looking up build tutorials and finding all kinds of inspiration for what I wanted to build in our worlds. This led me to a bunch of creators who are excellent builders, namely fWhip, GeminiTay, and MythicalSausage. I came for the builds and stayed for the let’s plays tbh. And this was fine until mid last year when they, along with nine others, launched an SMP (survival multiplayer) series named Empires, where they would each claim a different biome and trade and build empires and have wars and do roleplay. I subbed to everyone involved, and one of those was Pixlriffs, who I had definitely seen in search results before but I’m not sure I’d ever watched until then. Pix chose the desert, and copper, and thus, the Copper King was born. But the thing that really got me was the Vigil that Pix built to track the number of deaths on the server by each Emperor. Each death was represented, with 12 different colours, and the very idea of memorialising deaths like that was something that really stuck with me.

Death is a strange thing in Minecraft. Players can die, but they respawn again. Or not, if they’re playing hardcore mode, in which you only get one life. Every other entity in the world that is capable of being killed by the player does not respawn. You kill a cow, you get meat and leather. Cow is gone. The existence of undead mobs and the ability to zombify and cure villagers means death is sometimes final, but sometimes temporary. Sometimes a transition into a new kind of unlife. And if you leave it at that, it’s just game mechanics.

But then you add Empires, and Lore. Death has no real repercussions for players, or Emperors. The deaths are marked, and life continues. Emperors rise above death. It does not hinder them. It separates them from every other entity in the game. And yet, Pixandria isn’t the only Empire with lore surrounding death. Enter Mythland, and Mythical Sausage. His entire Empires arc is just incredible. He’s an amazing storyteller, and the lore he built into his world was so deep and well-thought out. Because for Sausage, Death for Emperors is different. For Sausage, the body may die, but the spirit flees to the spirit world, and he cannot return to the living and respawn without his soul. If his soul does not find its way back out, he will be lost forever. For Mythland, kings can indeed die, and do die. Why else would he write a will right before his final death by demonic corruption if he believed he would simply respawn? There was a chance he was not coming back to rule.

These two kingdoms have plagued me for months. The fanlore surrounding Pixandria grew to places I had not imagined it would go. To the Kings of Pixandria being guardians and watchers of the other Empires, to them being Immortal, or near Immortal, destined to simply Watch and Keep the Vigil alive, but not get involved. There were writings about ancestors, about rituals and long nights watching candles burn out, who keeps the spirits in the desert, the undying Copper King and his rejection of his Kingdom after the dragon fight that freed the demon, feeling like he had betrayed his people. All borne out of a simple concept of the Vigil, along with Pix’s storytelling. If I could choose to live in any of the Empires, I’d choose Pixandria. It became spiritual simply because of what it was and how it was set up and how it grew in our imaginations. If I belong anywhere, it’s there, with the candles and the beeswax and the copper, keeping vigil. Keeping those memories alive.

Which makes me return again to those words in the title. Pix wasn’t there for the finale of the series for varying reasons, but that line was his final line in his series of tweets about the finale, and it’s still such a profound thing to read, even now. It’s lodged itself in my head, surrounded by so many emotions from the finale, but also of Pixandria and how that desert city grew in my heart. It hits home in this turning of the year, when the dark year approaches again along with Wesir’s mysteries. Because we don’t just mourn for Wesir, we celebrate too. We mark the death, we light our candles for the Vigil, we mourn, and await the light and the triumph and the return of the sun when the year turns light again. When I wrap Wesir this year, I’ll be thinking of Pixandria, and the Vigil, and how we remember our dead, and how no one really dies if their name is still spoken. And maybe this time I’ll go back and not just look at Pixandria, maybe this time, I’ll build something there and keep tending to the Vigil during this dark year.