What the Rising Sign means

The Ascendant is another name for the cusp of the first house. It marks the part of the Zodiac that is rising, or directly on the Eastern horizon, at the time of your birth. That’s why the sign of the Ascendant it is also called the rising sign.

The sign of the Ascendant describes:

  • your “style”
  • the way you get things done
  • your mannerisms
  • your appearance
  • the side of you that you put forth when you are trying to make a good impression

It is at least as important as the Sun in your chart.

How can I find my ascendant?

To find your ascendant, you will need to have your chart.

Note: The rising sign (the sign of the ascendant) changes every 2 hours on average. So you’ll need to know your birth time to accurately determine your ascendant.

Notice that the chart is visually divided into 12 pieces. Many beginners think that each of those pieces represents a sign of the Zodiac. That’s not the case. They represent the houses.

If you move your finger counter-clockwise around the “pie pieces” of the chart, your finger will traverse each of the 12 houses in order. Each of the “spokes” of the wheel marks the entrance to each house. That line is called the cusp of the house.

The ascendant is the first house cusp. The first house represents the physical appearance, mannerisms, and self which one projects outward. It is one of the strongest and most important houses in the chart. The house cusp is the doorway to a house. The sign on the house cusp describes the affairs of that house. So the sign of the ascendant describes your appearance, outward personality, and how you get things done.

The sign of the ascendant is also known as the rising sign.

Example: Elvis Presley’s chart

Elvis Presley's chart

What is Elvis’ rising sign? Remember, trace your finger counter-clockwise around the chart. The line you cross before entering the first house is the Ascendant.

Closeup of Elvis' ascendant

Sagittarius is the rising sign in Elvis’ chart.

The Ascendant, as mentioned before, can tell us about a person’s style: his mannerisms, appearance, and the way he approaches the world.

Sagittarius is known for being ethical, philosophical, lots of fun, and happy-go-lucky. On the flip side, Sagittarius is excessive and can overdo things, exaggerate, be overly optimistic, and bite off more than he can chew. Can you find examples of this in the life of Elvis? Oh, yes.

Difference between the rising sign and the Sun sign

The Sun sign describes your substance. The rising sign describes your style. Our example, Elvis, is an example of a person whose Sun sign and Ascendant have very different characteristics. He was born with Sun in Capricorn.

  • The sign Capricorn is serious, demanding, status-conscious, ambitious.
  • The sign Sagittarius is optimistic, philosophical, excessive.

These two sound contradictory, but are they really? People are complex, and have many facets. These two signs describe two different sides of Elvis.

Elvis’ motivation (Sun) was status, ambition, career. He was a dutiful and hard worker, in his later years troubled and depressed (Capricorn) as he let himself go. His approach to the world (Ascendant) was through excess, hyperbole, exaggeration, being bigger than life (Sagittarius). He shocked 1950s America by singing “black music,” bridging cultures (Sagittarius) and opening the door for white people to accept, appreciate, and purchase music by black artists.

What if we reverse the two? Let’s find a well-known person with Sun in Sagittarius and Capricorn ascending.

A well-known owner of this configuration is Jane Fonda, the famous actress and anti-war activist. With her Capricorn ascendant, her style is serious and ambitious (Capricorn). The Sun represents her substance, what motivates her— idealism, political activism, and belief in doing what’s right (Sagittarius).

Jane Fonda:
Dec 21 1937
9:14 am EST,
Manhattan, NY

What sign is your Ascendant?

Note!
Since the house cusps are based on the Earth’s rotation, the ascending sign changes, on average, every 2 hours (12 signs in 24 hours). If your birth time is not correct, the ascendant may be incorrect in your chart.

Can you find it in your chart? Is it the same as, or similar in nature to your Sun sign, or is it different? How do you experience in your life the interplay of these two signs in your chart?