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All About the Ascendant

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The Ascendant is not an actual physical body, just like the nodes that I discussed in last month’s issue.  A chart is a circle, with the 12 signs and houses dividing that circle into a pie.  The sign that is on the cusp of your first house is known as your Ascendant.  It is the sign that was ‘rising’ over the local horizon when you were born, so it is also commonly referred to as your rising sign.  As my mentor, Steven Forrest, always says, your ascendant is the sign that was "dawning as you were born, and therefore it represents how you ‘dawn’ on people."


Our Ascendant, or Rising sign, is like the front door to the ‘house’ that is us.  When you see the front of a house, it gives you a certain idea of what the inside may be like.  A house, and a person, can look very different when you see beyond the front door — we all know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” yet we often do.  We tend to call it a ‘first impression’ that we get of someone.  Your Ascendant, as it looks to others, can tell you the nature of the first impression others are likely to get of you.  What is the ‘vibe’ you send out?  What is your style, from your clothing to your manner?    


It’s been said that the rising sign is like a mask.  This is a somewhat accurate description of the ascendant but it sometimes gives the wrong impression — that your rising sign is actually just for show, that it is not really a part of you.  In truth, your ascendant, while it is obviously not indicative of who you are in entirety, it is authentic.  We are complex creatures; there is not just one planet, nor one idea or one mood that will describe all of who we are.  Our rising sign is kind of a streamlined version of ourselves, how we feel comfortable initially introducing ourselves to the world, to new people, to new situations.  It’s like an interface — the best way we can think of to ‘plug in.’   


Though others approach us through our front door, we also exit through it.  We greet the world through our front door, and to us, the world looks a certain shape and color, figuratively speaking, depending on what it the view is like from our front porch.  Life is what we see through that front door, so our ascendant can tell us a lot about how we see the world, how we approach and ‘do’ life. Not our philosophies or morals specifically , but just how we tend to act on the world.  


When we are presenting ourselves to the world in a manner befitting our Rising sign, we feel more or less comfortable in our skin.  When we are not, we feel out of place, awkward, and conspicuous.  We may try extra hard to not be seen at all in response to our discomfort, or we may jump to the other extreme and try to force ourselves on the world, demanding to be noticed, to overcompensate for our own personal insecurity at not feeling like we have our own act together. 


Here's a small and imperfect Ascendant 'cookbook'. Find your Rising sign and house for a snippet about your natal chart. If you don't know what your Rising sign is, you can create a free chart here and find out! Remember, anything taken out of context of the entire blend of your natal chart is like an ingredient in a dish without the other ingredients to add nuance and complexity. Digest these ingredients with a grain of salt, so to speak!


Aries Ascendant

You view the world as something to be conquered.  You want to get out there and live life, make your mark and get your piece.  You present yourself boldly and directly.  You see no reason to hide yourself or tiptoe around situations.  You don’t tend to feel caution or holding back is the best way to approach life.  First impressions of you show you as someone who is not afraid to be seen, and perhaps, to some people with a more delicate approach, you seem a little pushy and aggressive.  


Taurus Ascendant

First impressions of you say that you are someone who is pretty laid back and easy to get along with.  You have a casual and relaxed interface with others.  You don’t see life as something to push through or to conquer; you approach life with the realization that everything happens in its own time — there is no need to get worked up or fight the tide.  Life is something to be done properly, and savored as you go.  


Gemini Ascendant

You appear to others to be receptive and open to conversation, to ideas, to talk.  Even if you do not consider yourself the ‘talkative’ type, there is something you project out to others that makes them feel you are approachable.  You approach life with the attitude of the student — you are here to learn as much as you can!  You feel that you should be like a sponge, absorbing everything you can learn and see and experience.  


Cancer Ascendant

You know that the world can be a fearful place, and that not everyone has kind intentions.  You tend to approach life with your guard up.  You make observations and interact with others behind that shell at first until you are convinced it is safe to come out.  First impressions of you can be varied.  Those people that are more observant and press at you may realize that you are somewhat inaccessible at first.  However, most people may not realize that there is more to you, glazing over the top of your protective shell none the wiser.  


Leo Ascendant

Your style of approach to life needs to reflect your love for living.  You are someone who approaches the world as open and waiting to receive you.  You are not naïve, but your style is not about defending, but about engaging.  You approach life with an open heart.  First impressions of you are likely to reflect that openness and generosity.  You tend to have a very welcoming and inclusive vibe.   


Virgo Ascendant

There is a certain ‘cut to the chase’ vibe about you.  You are not unpleasant, but you don’t go in for the frivolities of small talk and social graces, it’s almost as if you just don’t have the time or interest to play those kinds of games.  You usually feel ready to just get to the point.  The vibe you send out tends to reflect that.  Others may react to this one of two ways: either comfortable that they feel they are seeing the real you right away, or a little put off by what they may see as an abrupt or impersonal style.  


Libra Ascendant

You approach life ever aware of the sensitive space between you and others. You are always careful with the face you put on for others — you are good at sizing up situations to see how best to fit in and adapt to the tone of the situation.  You usually hang back a little bit yourself, putting on a good face while you perform the size up.  You send out a vibe of receptivity and amiability.  Others tends to feel right away that you are easy to get along with and very gracious.    

Scorpio Ascendant

You approach life in a kind of wary manner.  It’s not really based on fear or caution, only that you are very careful about what you reveal to others.  You tend to want to be that proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ — remaining invisible but free to observe others, until you choose to be noticed.  First impressions of you may find you a bit mysterious because of this.  You see the world as always a mystery to be penetrated.  You approach life with mildly suspicious attitude of ‘yeah, but what’s the real story?’  


Sagittarius Ascendant

You greet life with the philosophy of ‘life’s too short to sweat the small stuff.’  You approach everything as if it’s a new adventure, pretty open and brave, willing to try anything once.  You generally feel that you are an open book, never hiding anything under your sleeve, but pretty straightforward.  You have a vibe of optimism about you.  Others see you as someone who is very easy to get along with, friendly, fun, sort of happy-go-lucky, even.    


Capricorn Ascendant

There’s a no nonsense manner about you, that tells people let’s get down to business.  You present yourself with a certain sense of formality and dignity.  Even if you feel very friendly and open toward someone, people have a sense of reserve around you and may respond in kind. You approach life always with a sense of the bigger picture, feeling that you should always be aware of where your plans will take you, what lies ahead.  


Aquarius Ascendant

You see a multi-colored world. You approach life unapologetically about being who you are — someone who is not interested in going with the flow, but finding your own path.  You view the world as sort of separate from it — very aware of your own individuality, for better and worse. This vibe of separation may be apparent to others.  There is something about you that stands out, and people may respond with interest and admiration or a sense of shock and discomfort, depending on who they are.  


Pisces Ascendant

Your front door is very permeable, and you may sometimes feel that there’s only a flimsy screen separating you from the rest of the world.  You absorb the emotions and desires of the world, sometimes to a point of being overwhelmed, where you can even lose your sense of your own identity.  Others find you to be a very open and kind person, there is something about the vibe you send out that tells others you are someone who is compassionate and you may find you are often a shoulder to cry on. 

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