This is the 10th post in Astro DIY – our very own ‘learn astrology’ column. Your fabulous mentor-tutor is Tabby Besley!
Welcome back to Astro DIY!
I’ve been absent for a while working on project after project after project, but finally things are somewhat slowing down and I’m back to help you join the club of astrology obsessed folks. Astrology has become such a part of the way I understand people that now even when I don’t have any time to focus on it, it still finds it’s way into my life and thoughts and conversation. At a youth conference I was running last weekend I ended up reading the charts for all of our eight volunteers and figuring out who they should be dating!
Maybe there’s a future blog post in that, but this week we’re going to be taking a closer look at the Ascendant, also known as your Rising Sign in astrology, and what that’s all about.
The Rising Sign is one of the most important parts of your birth chart – along with your Sun and Moon Signs so it’s important to get acquainted!
Finding Your Rising Sign
The Ascendant in your birth chart represents the zodiac sign that is ascending on the eastern horizon when you are born.
You can only figure out what your Ascendant is if you have an exact (or pretty close) birth time, as every day the 12 signs go past the horizon, meaning you could have any one of them as your Rising Sign. Twins born a few minutes apart could have different Rising Signs, even though just about everything else in their chart will be the same. The Ascendant changes sign on an average of every two hours, though a sign can rise in as fast as 30 minutes.
However, if you know you were born, say within the period of an hour, but don’t know the exact minute, you could draw up charts for different times within that hour and if the Rising Sign doesn’t change then you’ll know that’s yours. If there are different options then hey, at least you’ve narrowed it down and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one describes you best.
In the birth chart it’s easy to find as it’s always the sign that falls on the 1st house cusp, in the middle on the left-hand side – usually marked with ‘AS’ or ‘ASC’ next to it.
Naturally, the Ascendant is associated with everything 1st house – the self, your appearance, your outward personality.
So what does it mean?
Your Rising Sign describes the way other people see you, the effect we have on an environment. It’s the first impressions we make, our instant reactions to situations, how we cope and respond to things that happen, the way we get things done. It is also said to describe our physical appearance and mannerisms – personally I’m not sure how much truth there is in that, but some people swear by it, so do your own research there!
Our Rising Sign is the part of ourselves we tend to be most comfortable revealing to the world – the face we subconsciously put on when we go out into the world. It’s still a real part of us – but not the only part, not the deepest part. Often other people will be able to spot the qualities of our Ascendant when we ourselves cannot see them.
Astrologers often say that we start out in life with the qualities of our Ascendant and that it describes our childhood environment and how we learn to be in the world. As we get older we become more like our Sun Sign, and our true self is revealed. I feel like this is quite a good explanation for lots of younger people who don’t identify very much with their Sun Sign – it’s totally something we can grow into and become more confident expressing, the same way we do with all sorts of other things in life.
If your Sun Sign and Rising Sign are the same then you’re probably a lot more transparent than most people – what you say and present is what you get and you might not have as many walls up as those with different signs.
The planet that rules our Ascendant is known as our chart ruler, which is another key place to look when you’re interpreting a birth chart. It can be an important part of your character, your outlook and goals in life and how you appear to others. So for example, my Ascendant is Cancer and Cancer is ruled by the Moon. Therefore the Moon my planetary chart ruler – so my personality will be influenced by that planet in particular – and the sign and house that my Moon are in will be extra important in making me, me. Here’s a quick guide to which signs are ruled by which signs if you haven’t memorised it yet.
So my Moon is in Aries in the 10th house – to me this explains why I don’t relate really strongly to being an Aries Moon – because it is watered down by my Cancer rising (please tell me you got that pun!) Instead it gives me more of those Cancer/Moon qualities when it comes to my emotions (Moon) and career/being in the public eye (10th House) – while still totally exuding the initiative and drive of Aries.
Your Chart Ruler is also said to be where you can really discover yourself and your soul purpose, which I can also relate to quite a lot. A lot of my time and energy goes into trying to make things better for queer and trans youth in my country through a charity I set up (that’s the Aries initiative) which is something really personal to me (emotionally driven – Moon) and work which is centered around compassion and providing support (very Cancer!) and I’m doing it out in the community, really publically, as my job (what the 10th house is all about). Hopefully that example will help you interpret your own Chart Ruler and break down what the different parts linked to it mean – it can give you yet another wondrous astrological layer of understanding in life!
What’s the difference between a Sun Sign and a Rising Sign?
They’re both all about the self and personality, right? Yes, both your Sun and Rising Sign are really important parts of your birth chart, and it can be hard to distinguish what the difference between them and their influence is. Your Rising Sign can contradict what your Sun Sign says about you (or vice versa) – say you’ve got a Sagittarius Sun and a Taurus or Cancer Rising, you might not be as adventurous as other Sagittarius folks and might be more of a home-body who needs stability. Or maybe you like people to think that, but secretly you’ve got this desire to travel!
The Rising Sign is like the filter we see the world through, the style we deal with it in, what we allow people to see of ourselves. The Rising Sign is less about who we are and more how we see things and interact with people. The Sun Sign is our personality, our ego, who we truly are underneath.
One final thing to remember is that of course, just like how people who have the same Sun Sign can still have completely different personalities, the same applies to people who share the same Rising Sign. The aspects – the relationships planets make to each other, and to the Ascendant – are a really important factor in this, which can really influence the expression of your Rising Sign, or any other planet. We’ll get to learning all about aspects in a later post.
Your homework: Work out which planet is your Chart Ruler and have a go at interpreting its significance in your life and personality. How about the differences between the expression of your Sun Sign and Rising Sign, can you tell them apart?
Share your findings and questions in the comments!