The BASICS
The SYMBOLS
The STORY in your chart
Modifiers of Meaning
© 2021 Molly C. Gauthier

Sun, Moon, & Rising: your “Big Three”

Why are the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs so important?

 Why are they the Big Three?

The Sun, Moon and rising (or ascendant) signs are the most important signs in your birth chart. They represent foundational parts of your personality, your life path, and your story. Taken together, these three zodiac signs form your “Big 3”, or what I call your “astrological handshake.” 

When you meet another astrologer or introduce yourself to a group of astrologers, it’s a polite gesture to offer this information. Hi, I’m Molly – Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Libra rising. In the language of astrology, it communicates some interesting information about me– without revealing everything!

Hi
I'm Molly! Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Libra rising.

How to find your “Big Three” zodiac signs

You’ll need your birth chart to locate your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. 

How to get your birth chart online— free birth chart calculator
(It’s easy! Only takes a few minutes.)

The Sun

The Sun is the center of the Solar system and the center of your chart. Your Sun sign shows how you express this Solar life force. How you shine and what you shine for. As you read more deeply into the Sun, you can read the complex influences on your self-expression and ego drives.

When you say, “I’m an Aries” or “I’m a Virgo,” what you’re really saying is that you were born when the Sun was in that Zodiac sign. Most people already know their Sun sign, before they even get into birth charts. That’s because the Sun sign is the easiest. Sun signs follow the same seasonal pattern every year. All you need is your birthday to look up your sign in the daily horoscope. Because of its accessibility and importance, the Sun sign is a good place to start. But the rabbit hole goes MUCH deeper. 

If you were a car, the Sun would be your engine.

Your Sun sign describes the core of your personality:

  • Your essence
  • Your character
  • Your ego
  • What drives and motivates you
  • Your creativity
  • The kind and amount of energy you express

The Moon

The Moon is all about emotion, safety, and security. The Moon reflects the Sun’s light, but often operates in a different way to the Sun, through a different sign or even a conflicting sign. Your expression operates in a different way than your experience.

Your Moon sign in a chart reading describes:

  • Your feelings
  • Your emotional and family patterns
  • Your subjective life experience
  • Your habit patterns
  • Your sense of safety
  • What makes you feel secure or insecure
  • How you react and process

If you were a car, the Moon would be your interior. Is it cozy, smooth, and comfortable, or is it a rough, messy ride? The planetary aspects to the Moon tell more of the story.

If you have been following along with the course, you already have your chart. Now it’s just a matter of locating the Moon’s glyph ☽ and identifying the sign the Moon is in. If you need some guidance, you can pull up my 3-step guide, How to find your Moon sign.

The Rising Sign (a.k.a. Ascendant)

rising sign in a chart
the rising sign in a chart
  • You must have a fairly accurate time of birth to calculate your rising sign, because the rising sign changes every 2 hours or so.
  • In a chart layout, you might find abbreviations like Asc or AC – Ascendant.

The sky is in constant motion. The far left side of the chart represents the eastern horizon, where the Sun, Moon, and planets rise in the morning.

The rising, or Ascendant sign is that Zodiac sign that is rising over the Eastern horizon at the moment of your birth. The Ascendant divides the chart into night and day, top and bottom halves. If you were born at sunRISE, the Sun will be near the RISING degree– or Ascendant.

(The ascendant is also the cusp of the first house in many house systems.)

Take a deep dive into the meaning of your rising sign. Check out the newest mini-course by Molly Gauthier.

Your Rising Sign: Gateway to your Birth Chart 

The zodiac sign on the ascendant, also called the rising sign, describes:

  • Your style
  • Your identity
  • The quality of your presence
  • The way people perceive you
  • How you show up in the world
  • How you believe you are “supposed” to show up in the world

If you were a car, your rising sign would be your “make and model,” which may or may not match your “engine” (the Sun).

Or, you could say: The rising sign describes you on the job interview, and the Sun sign describes you on the job. The Moon is you on your day off.

What does it mean to be a double or a triple Zodiac sign?

You’ve probably heard someone described as a “double Pisces,” a “double Leo,” or a “triple Gemini.” Double means that two of the “big 3” are the same sign. When the Sun, Moon, and Rising are all the same sign, that’s a triple.

  • Being a double makes you VERY characteristic of that sign. Double Cancer is very nurturing, very sentimental. Double Virgo is very precise, very detail-oriented.
  • Being a triple makes you EXTREMELY characteristic of that sign. Triple Taurus, for example, is extremely sensual, extremely stubborn. Triple Capricorn is extremely hardworking, extremely responsible.

What does my Sun, Moon, Rising combination mean?

Newcomers to astrology often try to take the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs and squish them together to come up with something more specific than this: you are all three. These three pieces represent different sides of your personality. Some people’s Big Three are in Zodiac signs that are very different from one another, showing different and even conflicting sides of the personality. 

Two or three could all be found in the same sign or the same element, like the fire signs Aries and Leo. Or in the same mode or quality, like the fixed signs Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio. The similarities and differences between these three signs are what make your Big Three interesting.

What do you know about the signs of your Sun, Moon, and Ascendant? How are they similar? What are the differences between them? How do you relate to the signs? Do you relate better to one than the others?

The Rising Sign and facial features

video preview

You can also preview the course video – Astrology of the Face – for free to see some fascinating shared features among people with the same rising sign.

Another great resource: Years ago, a researcher put together a database of headshots organized by Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. You can still access their work at www.astrofaces.com.

If you don’t know your astrology symbols yet, please refer to this easy guide to the astrology symbols.

What are your “Big Three” signs? Do you feel like they fit you?

25 Comments
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Hi, thanks for the article. I am a triple Leo. August 6, 1967 born 5am. 🙂

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) July 25, 2022 at 10:30 am

Thanks for visiting, Dawnia!

Hi Molly!! This is a new language for me. My sun is in Virgo, My moon is in Taurus, and my Ascending is Virgo. I don’t know what any of these mean but I am going to learn it!! Thank you for having me!

Hi Molly, Sun in Aries, Gemini Moon, and Scorpio Rising – A HOT MESS if you ask me, ha! Great to be here! -Paige

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) June 24, 2020 at 6:41 pm

Welcome Paige! You fit right in here. Glad to have you in Birth Charts for Beginners!

I am a Leo Sun, Aries Moon, Libra Ascending. While I am only beginning to understand the chart as a whole, I have looked at the individual parts both for understanding and balance. Good to be here.

Hi Molly, I am Sagittarius sun with Capricorn moon and ascendant, at times I feel more Cap than I do Sag. Could never understand why when I was at a party for example I felt more comfortable helping the host in the kitchen than joining in the party and since looking into astrology I now understand why I am like that and am working more on my fire, if that makes sense.

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) June 17, 2020 at 5:17 pm

That makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for your comment, Chris!

Hi Molly! So thrilled to have found you – I am totally brand new to this. My Sun sign is Libra, My Moon is Gemini and my Rising sign is Cancer… I believe that would be 2 air signs and 1 water sign. I found this super funny, my son is 12 years old and his Sun sign, Cancer – Moon, Gemini – Rising, Libra… does that make us nearly the same, lol … curious what you would say. I am addicted already ?

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) April 22, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Welcome, Lisa! I’m so glad you found your way here.

I see interesting connections between parents and children a lot. And yes, it does give you a unique bond and special understanding of each other, because you operate from similar frameworks.

Hello! I am Virgo Sun, Sagittarius Moon, and Aries Rising. What I know about these signs: Virgo is Earth element, Sag is Fire element, and Aries is Fire element. Most of the day, I feel I related to my Rising sign, is that normal? LOL

Love this course already!

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) March 29, 2020 at 9:42 am

Welcome, Emma!! Thanks for your great question! Yes, your ascendant is your identity, so it is not a surprise that you identify with it more, especially since it is a closer match element-wise with the inner you (your Moon).

Sun in Libra, Moon in Gemini, Asc in Aquarius .

I am a sun in Leo, moon in Leo, and Libra rising. I feel like my libra rising contradicts some of my Leo qualities at times! lol

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) February 16, 2020 at 10:34 am

Totally understandable, Denisha!

I’m Aries. Sun in Aries, Moon – Capricorn, Ascendant – Aquarius

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) January 10, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Interesting combination! By the signs alone, it sounds like the inner you is more serious and cautious than the outer you. Is that true?

Alex here…Sun in Virgo, Moon in Scorpio, Libra Rising. Who says I am a nitpicky, sarcastic negotiator??? (Hint: I say so, because it’s true…lol)

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) January 5, 2020 at 9:33 pm

? welcome Alex! You’ll fit right in here.

Im aquarius sun, scorpio rising, libra moon…. the three of us have a good time in my body lol

Tracy in Portland, OR. 6/18/54 Sun in Gemini, but both rising and moon in Capricorn. So that means I’m a double Capricorn???

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) November 7, 2019 at 10:31 am

Tracy – yes, that makes you a double Cap even though your Sun sign is Gemini.

Thank you! Well being well you. Have a grand sextile w/ a broken spoke.

Hi Molly christine Boyd here born 22/08/1954, 10 pm Auckland, New Zealand. I have Sun Leo/ Moon Gemini/ Asc/ Aries. Love astrology.

Molly Gauthier (Administrator) April 17, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Welcome, Christine!!

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