The Rising sign is interchangeably called the Ascendant. It can be located on a natal chart as the sign on which the 1st House cusp falls. It is the sign that was at the eastern horizon point, from the viewpoint of your birth coordinates, at the moment of your birth. It rises on the path of the sun’s rise, and it changes degrees every few minutes. This is why an accurate birth time and place is so important for an accurate horoscope. A Rising sign can be different for twins born just a couple minutes apart. Further, this Ascendant point is the premises for the calculations of the rest of the house cusps. A few minutes of time difference shifts the entire chart.
The Rising sign is like a direct connection between our Earth and the zodiac path. It is the zodiac sign that was “rising” over the Earth at the moment that we took our first breath, the point of intersection between the wheel of personal Houses and the celestial zodiac wheel. It represents our appearance in the world. The Rising sign is the image we project, the impression we make on others, the way we take action in the world, and the lasting effect we have on the environment. The Rising sign is often described as a public mask that we wear, since it tends to be how people see us, especially strangers who don’t know our deeper selves. But in fact, the Rising sign is not like a mask because wearing a mask denotes some level of falsity or hiding oneself. Your Rising Sign characteristics are not a “fake cover-up” as a mask would imply. Those characteristics are a real and true part of who your are, more like a face than a mask. Even though your face is shallow and external, you’re stuck with it and cannot take it off! It’s a real part of you, not fake. And people usually perceive it in ways that you yourself do not. That’s a Rising Sign for you – others see you as the embodiment of those characteristics, even though you might not see yourself like that.
Your Sun sign is your true self, but it’s like the frame of a car, which is not so visible underneath the doors, bumpers and shiny paint. The Rising sign is how people perceive us because it is the style that we use to go about meeting the needs of our Sun sign. For example, a Capricorn-Sun person is ambitious, reserved, and needs order. But coupled with a Sagittarius-Rising sign, the person will appear care-free and un-ambitious, while all the time working hard to reach its Capricornian goals.
We tend to behave more like our Rising sign when we are surrounded by strangers, or in new situations, like job interviews. But still, it tends to be our personal style at all times. Personal style does not represent our deepest needs, though (like the Moon). A study of the Rising sign is best used as a tool to understand why people behave the way they do. The Rising sign is also said to describe our physical characteristics – our looks. For example, Libra-Rising is beautiful, Pisces-Rising has a dreamy appearance and small feet, Taurus-Rising is stocky with a thick neck, and so forth. We find this to be somewhat accurate most of the time. You try it and see.
The Rising sign is extremely important in the natal chart. The planet that rules the Rising sign is considered to be the chart ruler (planetary rulerships will be discussed in a later lesson). In practical terms, this means that every planet and sign in your natal chart is filtered through the Rising sign, or filtered through its ruling planet. Here is the most literal reason why we see people of the same Sun sign who behave so differently. They must obviously have different Rising signs.
In addition, people with the same Rising sign can also have different personalities because of the following: since the Rising sign is not as as basically fundamental as our Sun sign, it is greatly subject to the modifying influence of aspects. In other words, you don’t have a clear description of your Rising sign until you’ve blended in the energies of any planets aspecting the Ascendant. Example: A person with Leo Rising, but with Saturn in conjunction with the Ascendant will not be as bubbly and expressive as a typical “Leo Rising” person.
Some astrologers believe that the Rising sign is the way the world forces you to behave. At some point in your youth, you were forced or taught to behave like your Rising sign. You can trace the Rising sign to one of your parents or primary care givers. Many times, the Rising sign of child will match the dominant sign of one of the parents.
People with Aries rising tend to be energetic, pioneering, rash, argumentative, selfish, impulsive, quick-tempered, aggressive, assertive, headstrong, independent, alert, mechanically-inclined, physically active, self-promoting, self-centered in an unthinking way, and more thoughtless than mean. You have a general dislike for restraint of any kind, don’t like to be told what to do, need to learn diplomacy and tact, need to look before leaping, need to better learn how to channel your energies for more constructive purposes and results. Like the ram who symbolizes this sign, you tend to butt your head against your problems hoping that with enough force you can eventually knock down whatever stands before you, including people. You like the challenges of life and are very competitive and sometimes combative. You get bored easily with routine and one thing you may need to practice more of is persistence. You tend to jump from one thing to another, always looking for something new. Finish what you start before moving on.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Patience. Mars rules Aries so Mars will be important in your chart.
People with Taurus rising tend to be strong, persistent, slow to change, determined, stable, quiet (until pushed too far – then there will be trouble), practical, stubborn, non-aggressive, patient, affectionate, loyal, hard-working, passive and unassuming in general, and fixed in their convictions with a general slow pace of mind. Taureans can be led or coaxed, but never pushed or driven. Resources and possessions, whether people or finances are very important to you. You want to build and make things grow, but you can’t be hurried. You want to get your hands on things and see the practical results of your own hard work. You are good at taking what others have started then carrying on. Success comes to you by sheer persistence and will. Your love of sweet or rich food can incline you to put on weight. Try to be less rigid in all you do. Tame any jealousy and instinct to possessiveness. You hate and fear sickness and pain.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Detachment. Venus rules Taurus so Venus will be important in your chart.
People with Gemini rising tend to be friendly, communicative, flexible, indecisive, unsure, liking to do two or more things at once, witty, clever, very active mentally, high-strung, temperamental, nervous or anxious, talkative, superficial, and always ready for something different. There may be two distinct sides to you as Gemini represents the Twins. You have a strong need to communicate what you already know and to learn more. You enjoy reading and traveling as they both give plenty of scope for picking up new knowledge. You need variety and can be the jack of all trades and the master of none. You tend to go wide – for breadth, not depth. You may appear confident, but you can lack self-confidence and inner sureness. You love to talk, both with your mouth as well as your hands.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Control (learn to control and not scatter energies and to prioritize). Mercury rules Gemini so Mercury will be important in your chart.
People with Cancer rising tend to be less vital than average, sympathetic, compassionate, passive, nurturing, receptive, protective, retentive, changeable, psychic, sentimental, tenacious, timid, quiet, sensitive, acquisitive (pack-rat), and moody. Just like the crab Cancer represents, you may have the habit of looking ahead and behind you at the same time, not fully wanting to face the future head-on and always worrying about the past and what might be sneaking up on you from behind, causing you great worry. You go through life in a curious sideways motion, never going simply directly forward. You are sensitive and you retreat into your shell when you feel threatened. Your feelings can be easily hurt, even when no slight was meant and you can take things much too personally. You enjoy travel, but you absolutely need to know that you have a home base waiting for you to come back to. Security is everything for you in life. Physical security comes with a comfortable base of operations and emotional security comes from all your possessions and attachments that have sentimental value to you. In fact, that’s why you keep everything – because of all the emotional value and significance. Once you have latched onto something or someone, you do not tend to let go easily. You respond to life through feeling, not thinking. Your moods go up and down just like the tides.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Discernment (distinguish boundaries). The Moon rules Cancer so the Moon will be important in your chart.
People with Leo rising tend to be generous, proud, emotional, romantic, extroverted, vain, egotistical, courageous, sentimental, self-confident, showy, and want to shine and be successful in wherever they go and whatever they do. They like to “rule” and have homage paid to them for their “royal” nature. You like to take risks and can sometimes be foolhardy, but you definitely have a zest for living. The worst thing someone can do to you is to hurt your pride or be unappreciative of you. You wear your heart on your sleeve in matters of love and you need a partner you can be proud of – and you want them to be proud of you. You are faithful to and protective of those you love. You can be quick-tempered, but you tend to not stay angry for long. You like to play the kingly role and have a sense of drama surrounding you. You are a ham. You like being the center of attention and will do things just to get that attention. You can be stubborn in a sunny sort of way. Your roar is worse than your bite. If your pride is hurt or your dignity is trampled on, then watch out, because you can forgive, but you don’t forget. You enjoy sports and out-of-doors activity. Your vitality and spirit are strong except if your heart is broken in love. Your need for love and affection is very great and you need to feel appreciated. If frustrated, you lose your desire for living.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Humility. The Sun rules Leo so the Sun will be important in your chart.
People with Virgo rising tend to be practical, analytical, discriminating, fastidious, careful, exacting, attentive to details, methodical, quiet, unassuming, shy, critical, thoughtful, and somewhat self-centered. You have an ingenious, active and alert mind. Gaining knowledge and putting it to good use are important to you. You strive for perfection and can be quite the person to live with or to be around because your standards for yourself and others are so high. At times others can never be “good” enough to meet those high standards. Finding fault with what’s wrong with things is your forte. Sometimes, though, this can make relationships sour as you often turn your critical eye on the one you love and the things they do. Pessimism and being too self-critical are two faults you should try to improve upon. You may tend to worry too much, especially about the small stuff, the little details. Too much worry can lead to health problems. You need to learn to digest every experience and assimilate it without bitterness, regret, spite or resentment. You need to get rid of any negativity that stems from a feeling of inadequacy. You tend to look younger than you really are, no matter what your age. You are very restless and nervous, so you seldom have much weight on you. At times you can be very indecisive and unsure.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Service. Mercury rules Virgo so Mercury will be important in your chart.
People with Libra rising tend to be charming, refined, attractive in some manner, gracious, appealing, indecisive, cooperative, sociable, creative, artistic, perhaps musically inclined, harmonious, and wanting to please and not make waves. You seek the approval and support of others. You may “need” the company of others and hate to be by yourself. You are apt to try too hard to please others and compromise your own principles in order to be liked or to be popular. Yet you can also be very self-centered. You have a difficult time saying “no”. You cannot stand disorder and disharmony and want everything to be balanced, poised, and harmonious. You like looking at all sides of an issue before making up your mind. You love to compare things and find analogies. You enjoy argument, yet you can be very diplomatic with a friendly exterior. Looks are important to you. You tend to attract whatever it is that you need without any real effort on your part.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Decisiveness, especially in relationships. Venus rules Libra so Venus will be important in your chart.
People with Scorpio rising tend to be secretive, deep, withdrawn, mysterious, regenerate or degenerate, reserved, hard to understand, courageous, willful, persistent, stubborn in thought, creative, self-reliant, self-controlled (except perhaps with the passions), and silent. According to the spiritual astrologer Isabel Hickey, no unevolved soul is born with Scorpio rising. This is a powerhouse rising sign. It represents the battleground where the higher and lower selves must come to mortal combat. They must be aligned and the lower self eventually must die and give way to and obey the higher self, the God within. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels are all involved. You appear calm on the surface, but you can be extremely emotional inside. “Still waters run deep”, as they say. You tend to be the silent type, always wanting to know others’ motivations, but never disclosing your own. You love to play the detective or the ferret. You have to know everything, all the how’s and why’s. You have great determination and strength, enough to overcome any adversary, even yourself. You need to overcome resentment, possessiveness and jealousy. There may be a fascination, preoccupation, interest and/or ability with the occult, death, sex or healing. You can be a devil or an angel, the eagle or the stinging scorpion.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Forgiveness. Mars and Pluto rule Scorpio so Mars and Pluto will be important in your chart.
People with Sagittarius rising tend to be idealistic, aspiring, enthusiastic, religious or agnostic, interested in far away places and cultures or ideas, physically active, risk-taking, outgoing, breezy, extroverted, philosophical, perhaps dogmatic, prejudiced, superficial, looking for greener pastures, and on-the-go. Sagittarius, the Centaur, is half-human, half-animal and this is perhaps the way you are. You have great aspirations, yet may have a most unruly desire nature. You can shoot for the stars or wallow with the animals. There is love of animals, the outdoors, sports, gambling, adventure, and travel. You may lack concentration. You probably have many acquaintances, but few friends. You tend to have casual contacts rather than in-depth relationships. You have a great restlessness and a love to be on the move. You may always be looking for greener pastures, never stopping or slowing down to see where you really are and what’s around you. You tend to be talkative and direct and to the point. You may be lacking in tact and diplomacy due to your frankness. Ideas are very important to you. You generally like working with the big picture and dislike all the little details. You may promise much and deliver less. You can rise to the heights or sink to the depths. Which will you choose?
Spiritual lesson to learn: Restraint, of all that is given away (and stop procrastinating). Jupiter rules Sagittarius so Jupiter will be important in your chart.
People with Capricorn rising tend to be sensitive, timid, business-like, ambitious, controlling, reserved, practical, down-to-earth, duty-conscious, responsible, critical, and cold. You may have had trouble communicating in early life. Perhaps you suffer from feelings of inadequacy. You overcome these feelings through sheer necessity, for you have determination in achieving your goals and purposes in life. You have great ambition and do not settle until you have reached the great heights that you have set for yourself. Money, position and power are important to you. The reserve that often appears as part of your makeup is sometimes taken as coldness. To you it seems that you are being responsible and simply doing your duty. You may have had trouble with your knees. Any trouble with the knees is the outer evidence of an inner inability to be flexible.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Sociability (lighten up). Saturn rules Capricorn so Saturn will be important in your life.
People with Aquarius rising tend to be altruistic, friendly, yet detached, impersonal, humanitarian, sociable, intellectual, freedom-loving, rebellious, independent, and unusual. You are here to learn altruism, brotherhood, and working for the common good, to forget yourself and your needs for the sake of your friends, who can also be strangers. You have new and different ways of looking at things. You can be very original and inventive, perhaps eccentric or bohemian. You are prone to uncertain and sudden impulses. You tend to be very intuitive, possessing a good mind. You have organizing ability and are capable and practical. You are intelligent, but sometimes cold and calculating where feelings are concerned. There is a certain detachment about you. You cannot stand possessiveness and jealousy and you require plenty of freedom. Depending on the relative strengths of Saturn and Uranus in your chart, caution, coldness and selfishness may be exhibited (Saturn stronger) or there will be more altruism, freedom and free-flowingness (Uranus stronger). If Uranus is stronger, then the things of the spirit will be stronger than materialistic worldliness.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Warmth (less head and more heart). Saturn and Uranus both rule Aquarius so Saturn and Uranus will be important in your chart.
People with Pisces rising tend to be sensitive, compassionate, empathic, weak-willed, long-suffering, day-dreamy, procrastinating, plastic, impressionable, impractical, indecisive, psychic, sentimental, romantic, idealistic, affectionate, easy-going, lazy, not concerned with the practical day-to-day affairs of life, absent-minded, and in search for the Holy Grail. At times you are too absent from focused awareness of the present. You may dream through life rather than live it. There may be involvement in music or dance or drugs. You may have a lonesomeness that nothing in the outer world can remedy. Being alone at times is an absolute necessity for you. The vibrations of this earth plane may be difficult at times for your sensitive body and spirit to withstand. You are very sensitive to the conditions of your surroundings and can be like a psychic sponge, absorbing all that is around you, for good or ill. You are very likeable, but you need to learn how to be more practical and down-to-earth and how to concentrate your energies on the here and now. You must serve others in this life, but must learn not to be taken advantage of or fall for everyone’s sob story.
Spiritual lesson to learn: Perseverance. Jupiter and Neptune both rule Pisces so Jupiter and Neptune will be important in your chart.