Rising Into Your Ascendant

Let’s talk about one of the most important points in your birth chart:  the Ascendant/Rising Sign.

It is the sign that is just on Eastern horizon, where the light first hit your chart on the day you were born.  I love that symbolism!  In fact, that is why I named Ascent Astrology after the Ascendant; you only go up from there.  But, back to my blog post. (Ahem…)

The sign on your ascendant is a power point and part of the big 3 when determining personality (Sun, Moon, and Ascendant).  This sign is the way that you present yourself to the outside world, how you interact with others, and the way you get things done.

The moment you were born, you first left your mother and became your own separate person.  The sign of your Ascendant expresses that essence and characteristics of how you will view the world forever.  It is key to your personality. Some astrologers refer to it as “your mask” as it’s the first thing people see about you.  However, I’ve found that the longer you wear a suit the more it becomes part of you.  It intertwines into your identity.  Think about your first professional job.  You probably felt like an imposter your first day, but the role you occupied became more ingrained the longer you stayed.

In social situations astrologers get asked the party trick question called: “Guess my sign.”  I know the average person is asking me to guess their Sun Sign, but what we pick up on is their Ascendant.  So 9 times out of 10, even if I guess, I’m going to get it wrong from their point of view.  

What’s the Difference Between Sun/Moon/Ascendant?

The Ascendant represents your Self-Awareness, Self-Sufficiency, and Self-Interest.  It signifies your goals, your ambitions, and the way you direct your energies to make things happen.

The Sun Sign represents your Identity, Soul Urge, and Ego.  It takes time to evolve and can be a bit hidden.  Your Ascendant is your shield of your Sun and Moon Sign.  Most people don’t grow into their sun signs until their teens or early adulthood.

The Moon Sign represents your Inner Emotional Life.  It’s how your gut responds and how you best nurture yourself.  Some people cry it out, others talk, while others have to get active to work through their feelings.  All of this is in your Moon. I wrote more about that here.

How to Find Your Ascendant:

Most people don’t know their Ascendant unless they have been to an astrologer or have done their chart online from a reputable source like www.astro.com or www.astro-seek.com

You also will need your exact birth time to figure out your Ascendant.  Find your birth certificate for this vs. relying on Mom’s euphoric memory.  The Ascendant hour changes roughly every 2 hours so it’s important.

Depending on the house system you use, the Ascendant can fall anywhere in the first house, but for the purpose of easy visuals, I’ve put it on the cusp line dividing the 12th and 1st house.  Always look for “As” or “Asc”.

If you don’t know your birth time, it’s still possible to figure out your Ascendant through a process called rectification.

Ascendant Signs:

Aries Ascendant:  There is nothing shy about this individual.  They have strong opinions and an innate way of raising their hand to go first.  They are enthusiastic, jump in head first, and like to get projects off the ground.  They like recognition but sometimes have a hard time sticking with things through the end.

Taurus Ascendant:  They are steady-eddy’s of the Zodiac.  They will order the same thing off of the menu because they know it will be consistently yummy.  They have a reputation for being resistant to change, but once they see the proven results they are 100% on board and it will be hard to get them to alter the path.  Refined and slower paced, these individuals don’t like to be pressured with time or opinions.  They aren’t afraid to put in the long hours and can accumulate wealth.

Gemini Ascendant:  Their hands move as fast as their mouths when they are talking.  There is always potential for everything in their minds which is why they are natural worries.  They are excitable, witty, and love to be with people.  They love to have multiple projects going on at the same time.  Don’t worry about deadlines; they will make it at the last minute by a hair.

Cancer Ascendant:  These individuals are warm, affectionate, and wear their hearts on their sleeves.  They are sensitive and can pick up on moods of others.  It’s almost like they have a 6th sense of what other’s need before that individual can articulate it.  When they perceive their security is threatened, expect a little emotional spiraling. Cancer Ascendants are the natural mothers of the Zodiac.

Leo Ascendant:  The magnetism these individuals possess is astounding.  They attract people, but sometimes doesn’t have the natural ability to organize them like Capricorns do – just in a sense of their radiance.  They celebrate everyone’s uniqueness and they believe life is fun as a basic principle.  They are natural cheerleaders and love to be celebrated.  False pride and grudges can be their downfall though.  Loyalty is the number one value until they feel betrayed and then expect to be shut in the darkness forever.  There are no second chances.

Virgo Ascendant:  If you get unsolicited advice in a crisp manner and it’s coming from a helpful place, chances are it’s coming from a Virgo Ascendant.  They want to be helpful as their core principle, but logic can feel a little cold.  They aren’t as stubborn as a Taurus; in fact they will change their opinion if the opposition has sound logic.  If given a problem their first instinct is to hit the information sources and gather as much information as possible.  Expect these individuals to be extremely health conscious.

Libra Ascendant:  Indecision is one of the hallmarks of this Ascendant.  It’s not because they don’t know what they want; it’s because they don’t want to offend anyone else by stepping on their toes.  They love hosting and making sure everyone feels welcome.  They are neat and discriminating.  In fact, their houses will look like an interior decorator swooped into every room and it was just their own eagle eye putting things together.  Don’t open their closets though; you’re going to find all of the unfinished design jobs they forgot. 

Scorpio Ascendant:  These individual are some of the hardest go get to know and they pride themselves on it.  They keep secrets like currency, but wouldn’t dare to cash in because they know the value of relationships.  Their minds are always working to go deeper and uncover the next piece of information.  They like to work behind the scenes and have amazing powers of observation to solve problems.  Like Virgo Ascendants, not much slips by them.  They can be cruel when crossed and will sting with their tempers if provoked.  They will never let you know how deep you hurt them.

Sagittarius Ascendant:  They would never try to box another person in which is why it is hard to get them to commit.  Respecting everyone’s need for independence, exploration, and ability to be themselves are key values.  They love a spirited debate and honestly don’t take offense when opposing views are expressed as long as clear thinking is shown.  These archers have a wide range of friends and are optimistic about the future.  Generous with their time and money almost to a fault.  They can be impulsive and will value any action forward in the spirit of trying to solve the problem.  They love to brainstorm.

Capricorn Ascendant:  As children you wonder if they know how to play.  Their ambition is focused and everything is directed toward making a better life and improving themselves.  All goals are just stepping stones where hard work and self-reliance are expected. They tend to have older person health problems when they are younger (need reading glasses, joint problems, etc).  They are extremely intelligent and build things that last.  They are the CEO’s of the Zodiac.

Aquarius Ascendant:  Lively and friendly, Aquarius risings are fun to be around.  They paint pictures with their words, expanding the “what could be’s” for everyone to see.  They don’t like conflict like Libra, but it’s more on a global/group level than on a personal/individual level.  They can be inflexible in their opinions though and will be intolerant of other’s short comings.  Their minds are quick and expansive and they have no patience for those who cannot see their vision.  They find the flaws in other’s arguments effortlessly and point them out with humor.  They don’t mind being independent.  They believe they are special.

Pisces Ascendant:  These individuals have the reputation of being the scatterbrains of the Zodiac.  They follow their instincts without reservation.  They are naturally optimistic, devoted, willing to help, and flexible.  Sometimes these traits get interpreted as them being wishy-washy.  But really they are so devoted to others that just have a hard time setting boundaries, sometimes to their own detriment.  They endure and believe in miracles and if that doesn’t work then they will play the victim so others will set the boundaries for them.

Bonus Astrologers Tip:

Most horoscope columns are written from the Ascendant’s point of view so try reading them from your Ascendant’s sign.  It’s particularly important when they are talking about topics that will be highlighted that month or year and the accuracy of the timing and issues will improve.  

Houses: Everything In Its Place

Since I went over the birth chart last week, I thought I would take a bit of a deeper dive into the astrological houses.  The houses help us take the wheel and make sense of the map by dividing it into sections.  By figuring out which areas of the chart have the most energy we can see how one’s life will develop and which themes will stand out.

1). There are 12 houses and there are 12 signs.  Depending on their different combinations, everyone gets a unique flavor. A Libra first house person will be a lot more flirtatious on first impression than a Capricorn first house person for example.

2). Each house is responsible for a different area of your life.  

  • First House:  Self image, Health, Life, Stature, Physical Appearance
  • Second House:  Self-Value, Money Earned, Possessions
  • Third House:  Communication, Early Education, Writing, Siblings, Neighbors, Short Distance Travel
  • Fourth House:  Your Roots, Family, Matriarchy/Most Nurturing Parent, Home, History 
  • Fifth House:  Hobbies, Children, Sex, Creativity, Gaming, Recreation, Performance
  • Sixth House:  Work Place, Daily Habits, Health, Pets, People Who Work For You
  • Seventh House:  Marriage, Legal Commitments, Business Partners, Open Enemies
  • Eighth House:  Shared Resources, Taxes, Death, Inheritance, Merger, Investments
  • Ninth House:  Higher Education, Religion/Faith, International Travel, Beliefs About People Different from You, Philosophy, Astrology, the Law (lawyers)
  • Tenth House:  The Way You Present Yourself in the World, Your Vocation, Your Employer, Honor, Prestige, Advancement, Responsibility, Reputation, Those Who Enforce the Law (judges), Your Father/More Authoritative Parent
  • Eleventh House:  “The House of Good Fortune”, Friends, Groups, Benefactors, Those Who Help Us Behind the Scenes, Hopes
  • Twelfth House:  Hidden Issues, Secrets, Prisons, Enemies Not Seen, Sorrow, Hospitals, Monasteries, Self-Care, Retreat 

3). Everyone has different signs ruling their houses.  The first house doesn’t always have to start with Aries.  Your first house could be occupied by any of the zodiac signs depending on what time you were born.  From there it will flow in traditional zodiacal order.  For example, A person with Gemini rising, and his second house will be Cancer, third house will be Leo, and so forth. 

4). Astrologers are extremely interested in the ruling planet of that particular house.  How happy that planet is and what aspects it’s making with other planets tells us a lot about that area of your life.  Its kind of like the difference of being at home with your shoes off vs. being the guest of honor at a party vs. just hanging out in a relatives house or being at a party you don’t want to attend.  Each of those scenarios have totally different comfort levels.  

5). There are 10 planets and 12 houses.   Everyone will have empty houses, and it’s ok!  The planets in the houses tell us your motivations, expressions, and lessons to be learned, but the houses tell us where you are likely to play out and learn those lessons.  When the planets get activated, you will have at least two areas of your life light up.

6). There are different house systems, and every astrologer has their favorite one to use. It’s just a way of diving up the sky into parts.  Whole Sign is the oldest system and it is a favorite of Hellenistic and Medieval Astrologers.  It’s also the one I prefer.   Placidus is a very common house system in modern astrology and it is usually the one defaulted to on most websites. It emphasizes the quadrants visually and so you can end up with some very large or very tiny sized houses.  Some house systems preserve each house having 30 degrees per house, others will take latitude into consideration and thus the sections will have varying sizes. Regardless, what matters the most is the sign on the cusp of each house.

7). A cusp is a line that divides the 12 houses.  It is the sign on the cusp (aka beginning that house) that rules that section and what matters the most in interpretation. Houses 1-6 are on the bottom of the chart; Houses 7-12 are on the top of the chart.  You follow the houses counterclockwise. Let’s start at the first house.The first house is where your Ascendant is located (As) on the Eastern horizon, right around where 9:00 is on the clock.  

See the example below:  We can see that the first house starts at Sagittarius at 9:00 (the symbol with the red arrow with the line through it).  The Black Arrow is pointing to the exact degree of the Ascendant angle of 12 degrees in Sagittarius.  From there we know that Capricorn (strange VS glyph) is on the 2nd Cusp (occupies the 2nd house); Aquarius (water squiggles) is on the 3rd cusp (occupies the 3rd house); etc.

8). What if there is a topic that is not listed on that list that I have a question about?  Oh, my dear, there are derived houses.  For example, what if you want to know about step-children?  I would direct you to look at your House of Partnership (7th) and count 5 counterclockwise.  Why 5?  Because the 5th house is what rules children – thus you will see your step-children in the 11th house.   What about your Mom’s money?  Mom is in the 4th house, but it is her resources (8th house domain).   So you would start in the 4th house and count 8 houses away thus it would be found in the 11th.  What about your grandchildren?  Go 5 houses from the 5th house = 9th house.  

9. I would argue that the most sensitive point of your whole chart is your Ascendant. It is determined from the time of your birth and it sets up the whole order of the rest of your chart. Since the Ascendant sign shifts roughly every two hours it can make a difference of having someone with a 4th house Sun who likes to be at home vs. a 5th house Sun who places high value on self-expression and being creative.

10. There are houses that are naturally more helpful and those that are more difficult in nature. By their nature, the 12th and the 6th house are houses that bring difficulty. Health and secrets are not topics you really want to mess with generally. That being said, the Sun finds great joy being in the 9th house, Venus loves being in the 5th house, and Jupiter is friends with the 11th house. Even the harder planets, like Mars and Saturn, have their places of joy. Mars actually does well in the 6th house with his nose to the grindstone and Saturn’s likes the isolation of the 12th.

The art of astrology comes in the form of blending the geometry of the aspects between the planets, the common themes of the houses, the timing of the transits, and the natural expressions of the signs. From there, you get a 360 degree view of a whole person.

For more information:

Houlding, Deborah. (2006). The houses: temples of the sky. Bournesmouth, England. Ascella Publications.

Kent, April Elliott (2011). The essential guide to practical astrology. [Kindle Version]

Hand, Robert (2000). Whole sign houses the oldest house system: an ancient method in modern application. Las Vegas, Nevada. ARHAT Publications.

Brennan, Chris (2018). Hellenistic astrology: the study of fate and fortune. Denver, Colorado. Amor Fati Publications.

The Birth Chart: 10 Fun Facts

Let’s chat it up about the most fundamental building block of astrology:  The Birth Chart.  It is a map of where the planets were the moment you took your first breath.  It is your astrological DNA. From that, astrologers can tell what your gifts are, what your challenges might be, and help you time what events can manifest in your life.  In short, the birth chart  is the natal promise of who you are.  Let’s talk about some of the fundamental parts of a natal chart.

1). The birth chart looks like a wheel divided up into 12 segments.  Each of those segments represents a different area of focus in your life.  For example, the first house is all about your health and self-identity while the seventh house is all about relationships.  

2). There are 10 planets to divide up among 12 houses so everyone will have empty houses.  Do not worry about that.  An empty house doesn’t mean you have nothing going on in that area of your life.  I have an empty house of children, but I have 2 very healthy kiddos!

3). Each house is ruled by a different planet based on which zodiac sign occupies that house. For example:  My first house is Capricorn which is ruled by Saturn.  Therefore Saturn is the most influential planet for my first house topics.

4). The Big Three points of a personality in a chart that you will hear in pop culture are the Sun Sign, the Moon Sign, and the Ascendant.  The Sun Sign is what most people are familiar with; so when someone says, “I’m a Libra,” what they are really saying is my birthday is between September 20th and October 19th when the Sun is in Libra.  

5). Planets make aspects to each other.  This is a fancy way of talking about how the planets are seeing one another.  If two planets are in a friendly aspect, like a trine or a sextile, then they get along and the energy usually manifests easier.  However, if they are facing each other, squaring off, in each other’s blind spot, or hanging out in a house they don’t like then you are going to feel more of a struggle.

6). You aren’t going to feel everything in your Natal Chart all at once.  Different years will highlight different areas and planets.  A good astrologer will be able to time this out; birthdays are especially optimal times to have this done.

7). Most pop culture horoscopes are actually meant to be read from your Ascendant’s sign, not your Sun Sign.  This one is always a *Surprise* for most people!!! You can figure out what your Ascendant sign if you have your birth time and calculate your chart.  Be sure to double check your Mom’s memory with your birth certificate for an accurate time.

8). The horizontal line running from Asc to Dc is the horizon.  You can literally see where the sun and the moon revolved around you the moment you took your first breath! This line says a lot about you and your relationships.

9). The MC is the highest point in the chart and it can give us clues as to where your career aspirations are.

10). When the planets are moving direct, they follow counter-clock wise around the wheel, with the exception of the Sun.  Only when planets are moving retrograde will they travel clockwise.

For more information, you can look up your own birth chart on www.astro-seek.com or book a reading with me for a more personalized reading.