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Astrology Explained: The Ascendant

Astrology Explained: The Ascendant

Everyone is familiar with their Sun sign, but it's your Rising sign, otherwise known as the Ascendant, that's the star of the show.  People are often pleasantly surprised to find out that their personality or character attributes relate almost entirely to their Rising sign and fills in the gaps where their Sun sign falls short.

I'll give you a perfect example.

I am a Virgo Sun.  Yes, I'm a perfectionist and very detail-oriented.  However, I found that my taste for luxury, hardheadedness, and stocky frame didn't quite fit into the Virgo paradigm.  Everything made sense once I realized that my Ascendant is in Taurus.

Together with your Sun and Moon signs, your Rising sign adds to the complete picture of you.  It's the starting point for everything having to do with your natal chart and is THE most important part of your personal astrology.

But, what is it exactly?

What is the Ascendant?

You'll see me use "Ascendant" and "Rising sign" interchangeably.  According to Chris Brennan, author of Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, the Ascendant is "the degree of the ecliptic which intersects the eastern horizon at any given moment in time, or roughly the region of the sky where the Sun rises over the horizon in the morning each day."

So the exact degree  of your Rising sign is what's known as the Ascendant.

The Rising sign changes approximately every two hours.  That's why two people born on the same day can have two different Rising signs.  That's also why it's so important to known your exact birth time.

Why is the Ascendant Important?

It's important because whatever sign of the zodiac the Ascendant is in becomes the 1st house in the natal astrology chart.

Not only that, but everything about your chart is determined by its relation to the Ascendant.

The Ascendant represents everything that is you.  According to certain ancient astrologers, it represents the moment that your soul entered the physical plane and the zodiac sign on the horizon is the portal by which it enters.

Are you starting to see why your Rising sign says so much about you?

Your Rising sign is the mask you wear out in the world; that sign's characteristics are how the world perceives you.  The 1st house governs everything having to do with you, your health, and your physical vitality.

The signs of the other 11 houses are all determined by the Ascendant.  The Ascendant also defines the different areas of your life (such as your relationships, possessions, and career) and these areas' quality.

How to Find Your Ascendant?

As previously mentioned, you'll need your exact birth time to find your Ascendant.  The best place to find that information is on your birth certificate.  Here in the United States, you can request a "long-form birth certificate" from your municipality, which will contain your birth time.

While your parents' memories may have to suffice, unless they are 100% sure of your birth time, you might not get an accurate natal chart, making it difficult to find your Ascendant.

The Rising Signs


If your Ascendant is in Aries, you are a pioneer, initiator, and a firecracker.  Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and is competitive by nature.  Being a cardinal fire sign, Aries likes to start new projects, take action, and get things moving.  Symbolized by the ram, Aries represents leadership, strength, and charging forth to butt their heads against any obstruction in their way.


If your Ascendant is in Taurus, you are sensual, stable, and dependable.  Being the first of the earth signs, Taurus is concerned with the five senses and all material things.  Symbolized by the bull, Taurus people are slow, steady, and stubborn; they get accustomed to new concepts gradually.  Taurus is kind, gentle, and slow to anger, but all they see is red once their anger is ignited.


If your Ascendant is in Gemini, you are talkative, bright, and curious.  Symbolized by the twins, Gemini represents the dual forces: the opposition of the human and the divine in all of us.  Often referred to as the butterfly of the zodiac, Gemini is known to flit about from one situation to another to gain knowledge through various experiences.


If your Ascendant is in Cancer, you are warm, nurturing, and sensitive.  Cancer is the sign of the womb, the house, the home, the interior of all things, for it is the protecting or covering principle.  Represented by the crab, Cancers have a hard exterior, but are soft inside.  Intuitive, psychic, and moody, Cancers are the most subconscious of all signs - everything is latent and hidden.  


If your Ascendant is in Leo, you are confident, vibrant, and fun.  Just like the Sun, their ruling planet, Leos shine brightly and operate from their hearts; they live by the mantra, "know thyself."  Leos are regal and kingly - they have a confidence and assurance that strengthens those who are timid and angers those seeking the power inherent in Leo.


If your Ascendant is in Virgo, you are organized, detail-oriented, and reliable.  Virgos are known for their perfectionism and their desire to bring order and organization to not only their lives but the lives of those around them.  They are known to make few enemies and have many friends due to their quite, gentle manner.  Being the sign of service, Virgo is considered the worker bee of the zodiac.


If your Ascendant is in Libra, you are charming, social, and outgoing.  Libra is the sign of relationships, how we interact and relate to others.  It's no surprise then, why Libras are so social.  Libras are known to be diplomatic, charismatic, and typically desire to be liked by everyone.  They are outgoing, understanding, dominating, and self-willed.


If your Ascendant is in Scorpio, you are mysterious, quiet, and alluring.  Scorpio is a profound sign and often misunderstood.  Scorpio is characterized by three symbols: The Scorpion, the Eagle, and the Phoenix.  As complex as these symbols are, so are Scorpios.  Emotionally deep, transformative, and a bit mysterious, Scorpios are the mystery sign of the zodiac.


If your Ascendant is in Sagittarius, you are fun, vibrant, and bright.  Sagittarius individuals are friendly, outgoing, optimistic, and extroverted in their approach to life.  The centaur, the symbol for Sagittarius, represents the sign's attempt to liberate itself from the lower nature and evolve towards a higher level of consciousness.  Therefore, it's not surprise that Sag loves freedom, travel, and has a taste for adventure.


If your Ascendant is in Capricorn, you are mature, organized, and driven.  True to its element, Capricorn is an earthy, practical, and steadfast sign.  Capricorns are dependable, confident, and hardworking.  Symbolized by the mountain goat (or sometimes the sea-goat) climbing a steep mountain, Capricorns are willing to face calculated risks in their climb to the top, and nothing will stop them.


If your Ascendant is in Aquarius, you are intellectual, innovative, and a humanitarian.  Aquarians are the mental pioneers, the forward-thinking individuals who live in the future and not the past.  Everything associated with this sign is rebellious, individualistic, independent, imaginative, creative, and inventive.  Aquarius is the sign of spiritual rebirth and also the sign of astrology.


If your Ascendant is in Pisces, you are dreamy, compassionate, and creative.  The two fish depicted in the sign of Pisces represent the personality and the soul; one swims upstream while the other swims downstream.  Pisces is the most sensitive of all the zodiac signs, and their emotions are strong and deep.  When they are true to their real nature, Pisceans have a high and holy destiny and are the true saviors and servants of humanity.


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