What is a Rising Sign? 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.
Now that you know what a rising sign is, see the Rising Sign Interpretations.