Celebrating Ma’at: Persistence and the Ten of Wands

For the next 40 days, I will think about a value I have each day. I am also continuing the daily draw, a short rite to Ma’at, and reading 10 pages a day of Dr. Karenga’s “Maat: The Moral Ideal”. I’ve given up sweets as a way of connecting this celebration back to my New Year’s Resolution.

Today, I pulled the Ten of Wands to go with the value of Persistence. It seemed appropriate…in the face of burden, continue on. I always thought persistence was born of passion…when you really care about what you are doing, its processes and its ends, it motivates you to continue. But after thinking on it for a while, I wonder if this is always the case. I think there are times persistence can be endless while also passionless.

With respect to the ten, curiosity lead me to reference “Tarot and the Tree of life” by Isabel R. Kleigman, a book which focuses on the Minor Arcana and how it connects to the Kabbalah. The deck I used is which relies heavily on the Kabbalah for symbols and inspiration, so it seemed an appropriate reference.

The tens of each suit are associated with Malchut, or “Kingdom”. This sefirot is associated with the physical world. It is where things manifest. When the fiery Ace finally gets to the ten, there is conflict. Kleigman explains that the ephemeral flame struggles to express itself in the solid, physical ten. It needs the gifts of the other suits to survive: the planning of Air, the constant efforts of Earth, the motivation and flexibility of Water.

Passion alone cannot overcome obstacles. It must be combined with strategy and analysis, resources and consistent effort, a cool head and flexibility to persist. Does passion always need to be in the equation? When the sky is darkest and our trials their hardest, don’t we lose passion, temporarily?

I will admit. There have been times when I have lost my passion, but found a way to persist despite my dwindling interest. In those times, the planning and effort sometimes gave way to a small reward…which renewed my passion. But, I often think the reason I continued in the absence of passion was due to other motivators…I needed money, or an accomplishment, or I had made an obligation. Without those external motivators, would I have kept going?

In such a case, perhaps going through the motions can, at times, lead to fruit. While you may not be enthused about your work, at least going through the motions gets you there, perhaps enabling you to find your passion again or affording you the foundation upon which to inspire passion. But this idea of “going through the motions” seems to be something we are averse to in modernity. It’s not the type of thing for which people want to advocate …if you aren’t passionate about what you do, why do it? We should be in love with life and all it entails, right?

Well…ideally. But realistically, not everyone will love their work. Not everyone will find the most mind-blowing romance. Not everyone will find the deepest faith or have exciting travels. Sometimes, one area of life is simply a means to another, more fulfilling area. Work can be this for many people. Work affords us a home, a family, or a means to create new adventures. Surely we must be passionate about something, but we can’t be passionate about everything. When we expect perfection constantly, particularly of things we cannot control, we are doomed to disappointment.

Do we always need passion to persist? Certainly, when all your ducks are in a row but one thing stands in your way, passion can be the deal-breaker. But is passion something which is sufficient but not necessary? Can discipline or obligation feed persistence? And at that point, isn’t persistence still legitimate?

Obstacles are a given, but success is not. May, may all of you forever persevere, and may your perseverance lend you success.



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