Astrology is a vast subject, but the doorway in is pretty straightforward. Once you cross the threshold, it can be like walking through the wardrobe from our world into Narnia, which makes astrology a rather amazing spiritual tool if you are willing to plumb its depths, either on your own or with the guidance of a professional astrologer. Come explore this subject with me. I want to show you how beautifully complex the subject is and how useful it can be in many different ways in your life journey.
The Ascendant is one of four important points based on the movement of the Sun throughout the day; it represents horizon point where the Sun would rise or did rise on the day of a person’s birth. The Descendant is the point in a sign when the Sun would set or did set on the day of a person’s birth and it is always exactly opposite the same degree as the rising point. The Medium Coeli (midheaven) is the point in the sky when the Sun was at its apex that day and Imum Coeli (bottom of the sky) is the point when the Sun was at its nadir. These two points are also exactly opposite. This article looks at the Ascendant and its meaning in each sign.
The Ascendant – Your Rising Sign
The Ascendant is considered the first of four key “angles” and it represents the energy you “put out” that is the first energy people encounter when they meet you. One way I like to describe the Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant is to say that the Sun is you, naked; the Moon is you, on the inside (how you feel); and the Ascendant is the outfit you choose to wear in this lifetime.
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To accurately identify your Ascendant, you do need to know your birth time. The Ascendant will change roughly every two hours, so a correct birth time is crucial. If you happen to be casting a chart or reading chart that is using the Placidus House system, then the Ascendant will be the cusp of the 1st House. If you are using the Whole Sign House system, as I do, then the Ascendant will be a point within the 1st House. Either way, it will always be related to the 1st House because it is the angle that begins your Zodiac wheel.
Each House rules an area of human life; the 1st House rules our quest for identity, and so the sign ruling the 1st House influences how we “identify” ourselves and “are identified” by others. When I first began my study of astrology, way back when I was 18, the first book I read was Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. This was 1986 and there were not that many astrology books in the mainstream bookstores. I remember reading through each of the signs and not feeling very connected to the description of my Sun sign, which is Aries. However, I did feel rather connected to Scorpio. Only later in my studies did I discover that my Ascendant was, in fact, Scorpio.
The Ascendant and the 1st House
The Ascendant, on its own, is quite a significant point, and the 1st House is really your House of Initiation. Whatever planet rules the sign of your first house it is considered the “ruler of your chart”. In my case, with Scorpio as my Ascendant, my chart is ruled by an ancient and modern astronomical body. The ancient ruler is Mars and the modern ruler is Pluto. Wherever those two show up in my chart, I can expect my “identity issues” to move through those areas of my life. In my case that would be my 11th House of Community for Pluto and my 7th House of Partnerships for Mars.
Also important is the first point “after rising”, which may or may not be near the actual Ascendant angle, but is another astronomical body that should get extra attention. If a point is close to the Ascendant; close enough to be conjunct, then that point will constantly “display” as part of your identity. Hard aspects to your Ascendant, like a square or inconjunct, will also “be on display” with the Ascendant involved. For purposes of this article, we are just going to look at the meaning of the Ascendant for each sign generally.
The Aries Ascendant
When the Ascendant is Aries, it is in its “natural” placement. In an uncast chart, Aries is assigned to the 1st House and “rules” that House. Taurus rules the second, and so on. So, people born with Aries Ascendant have all the Signs in the Houses of their natural rulership. Aries Ascendant people will present and be seen as “going their own way”. They will not follow the crowd or appear to follow the crowd even if other factors in the chart make them more social. They may not necessarily stand out, but they certainly will not “blend in”. Their chart ruler is Mars.
The Taurus Ascendant
With Taurus on the Ascendant, these people find their identity by establishing themselves in some persistent and ongoing way. Legacy is a good word to describe the fullest expression of Taurus Ascendant individuals. When around these people you will feel like you can “count on them” and they will make every effort to build something that lasts when it comes to how others “identify” them. Their chart ruler is Venus.
The Gemini Ascendant
Gemini Ascendant people will never meet a personality test they do not like. Whether they are finding out about their Myers-Brigs Personality Assessment or which Marvel Comics superhero/heroine they would most likely be, Gemini Ascendant people love to learn about themselves and what makes other people tick. They enjoy comparing their identity with your identity, so expect that they will want you to take the tests too. Their chart ruler is Mercury.
The Cancer Ascendant
When the Ascendant is Cancer, these people learn about their identity through nurturing and caring for others while also learning about what constituted self-care. Their identity flows through their emotions, especially the vulnerable emotions of caring for others and allowing themselves to be cared for. This Ascendant learns through encounters with others about emotional needs and will often present as a “safe harbor” for the people in their lives. Their chart ruler is the Moon.
The Leo Ascendant
With Leo on the Ascendant, these people present and are perceived as performers and entertainers. Much of what they understand about themselves is based on the reflection of others determined by how well the Leo performs. “Did I make them laugh? If so, what is about me that is funny?” Leo Ascendants need to “shine”; after all, their chart ruler is the Sun. Proper and positive recognition for their efforts, and figuring out what people want to recognize them for, help them develop their identity.
The Virgo Ascendant
Virgo Ascendant people understand their identity through service; they are here to help and they want to be helpful. How they solve problems helps them understand themselves and shows other people how to ask them for help. The “problem and the solution” are the keys to Virgo identity development, which makes this dialectic ideal for learning about themselves in fields involving research, practical solutions (like repair work), and health/nutrition (where each person’s solution is often unique). Their traditional chart ruler is Mercury, but Chiron is now being presented and accepted as a modern chart ruler.
The Libra Ascendant
When the Ascendant is Libra, these individuals learn by relating directly one-on-one with others, through negotiation, and by analyzing people, problems, and situations logically. This sign “figures itself out” by seeking to balance or harmonize with others or situations. Discord is uncomfortable to them, so they will work to figure out who they are by finding ways to bring balance to unbalanced circumstances. Their identity will be operating “at the optimum” when they, themselves, feel in balance. Their chart ruler is Venus.
The Scorpio Ascendant
With Scorpio on the Ascendant, these people learn about themselves through intense, transformative situations and engagement with intense people. “Carefree” is not a word you will ever use if you meet a Scorpio Ascendant no matter how much Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius is active in the chart or how many points are in the 5th House (play and creativity). They want to go deep, into themselves and others. They often learn best about themselves when faced with emergencies, either their own or other peoples. The traditional ruler of their chart is Mars and the modern ruler is Pluto.
The Sagittarius Ascendant
Sagittarius Ascendant people like to “go big or go home”; they learn best about their identity through the exploration of the world by getting out in it or by exploring the philosophies and ideals that drive humanity. I often think of these individuals as missionaries; they learn by having a belief they want to share and taking it somewhere in the world where they are foreign, their belief is foreign, and the beliefs they encounter are foreign to them. Appropriately, their chart ruler is the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter.
The Capricorn Ascendant
When the Ascendant is Capricorn, these people cannot “grow up” fast enough. They learn about themselves through the pursuit of goals, the measures of success, and constant efforts to achieve. They might not like a test, but they cannot resist one. They learn about themselves by “testing” themselves against others. They want to have an impact, and not a small one; so, they learn by observing and engaging with high achievers because they feel those people reflect the identity they want to develop. Their chart ruler is Saturn.
The Aquarius Ascendant
With Aquarius on the Ascendant, meet one of the circus people, or fairy folk, or the idealistic socially conservative individual. These individuals do not so much develop their identity as they “discover” it! And whatever they authentically find, they will idealistically present. PTA mom or dominatrix – Aquarian Ascendant individuals always present in some truly unique way. How do you know you have a room full of Aquarian Ascendant people? They have nothing in common. The traditional ruler of Aquarius is Saturn and the modern ruler is Uranus.
The Pisces Ascendant
Pisces Ascendant people prefer to learn about themselves through imagination, their dream state, and how they fit into the whole of humanity. These individuals can plumb the depths of their identity best through altered states, whether achieved in a healthy way through meditation or guided mystical studies and activities, or through addiction and various forms of emotional escapism. Developing healthy boundaries are key since they often present as someone who can absorb or be absorbed by others for emotional energy. Their traditional chart ruler is Jupiter and their modern chart ruler is Neptune.