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  • Writer's pictureLori Barnes

The Ascendant

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

The Ascendant in astrology is also called the rising sign and you will see these terms used interchangeably throughout astrology literature. The Ascendant is one of the most important considerations in astrology as it describes your personality. Along with the Sun and Moon, the Ascendant is part of the triad of personality, character, and individual nature. This triad describes the concept of who we are.

Ascendant, Sun, and Moon

The Sun, Moon, and Ascendant triad each have their own energetic symbolism to help us understand, learn, and grow through the art of astrology. These three things combined are usually the first things astrologers look at and start within a professional consultation.

As a follower of astrology, these three things are all important to know for your own chart. That way when you read horoscopes, you know the three main signs of expression in your chart. The Sun, Moon, and Ascendant all express their energy through one of the twelve zodiac signs.

The Sun is the center of the universe, both in our galaxy and reflected in our individual astrology chart. It is the symbolic center of our personal universe, a magnetic center, a central guiding force in astrology. 

When you say ‘I am a Libra’ – or whatever sign you are, you are talking about your Sun sign. This is simply because popular astrology has made a huge industry on Sun Signs.

Understandably so, it’s easy to identify your Sun sign because it matches up to our annual calendar. The Sun moves through the zodiac in a year, around a month for each sign, which makes it easy to figure out and write about.

The other planets move at different speeds making it less easy to divide up by the calendar months in a year. So the Sun is the entryway for most people into popular astrology. General horoscopes are for Sun signs and will be more accurate for Ascendant signs. Keep in mind that while this popular astrology is correct, it covers just a fractional portion of a true astrology consultation.

When we look at the Sun, we find where you are attracted to exert your attention in life. The way you express your Sun is based on the sign the Sun is in. It’s the combination of a planet (or light like the Sun and Moon), the sign it is expressing through, and where it falls in your chart – which can further describe the topics, events, and people in your life.

Our moon sign will describe our instinctual nature, what is important in life as it relates to our needs, our emotional responses, and is related to what happens to our physical body. It is about how we nurture others and need to be nurtured in life.

You can grasp right away the importance of the Sun and Moon in our charts. Now we layer in the third part, the ascendant, which is receiving the same amount of importance as the Sun and Moon. The Ascendant is our personality, our character, our persona.

It is my goal in this blog to help you understand what the ascendant means symbolically and why it is such an important component of astrology.

Astrology Chart bi wheel with ascendant.

Ascendant Location

The Ascendant in a typical round western astrology chart is always found on the left side of the wheel. It is the horizontal line going across the chart. This line is called the ascendant and descendant line or axis.

The Ascendant is not a physical body, but it is a physical place. It is the point on the horizon that was rising, at sunrise, the day you were born. There is a lot more that I could say technically about this, but that is outside of the scope of this blog.

I want you to know that the Ascendant is a physical place on the horizon of the earth that is found by using your birthdate, exact time, and location. For thousands of years, astrologers had to do these calculations by hand. These days, most of us use computers.

12 Zodiac Signs

There are twelve signs in the zodiac. Each sign is composed of 30 degrees, which make up the 360 astrology dial or wheel. This is important when we consider how the astrology wheel is divided up and where the different planets, Sun, and Moon fall in your chart.

That wheel, which I have an example of below, is literally a map of the sky around the Earth at the time you were born. Earth is the center of the chart because astrology is geocentric (earth-centered). Disclaimer, there is a branch of heliocentric astrology (Sun-centered) but most modern astrology is geocentrically oriented.

The space around the Earth, literally the space surrounding Earth, is divided into twelve slices, each representing a zodiac sign. As the earth spins every day over a 24-hour period, it runs through each of these twelve slices.

Your Ascendant is based on where the eastern horizon is at the time you were born, and that location will be in a particular sign and degree of the zodiac. That makes your chart unique, individual, and specific to you that day. The zodiacal degree can be between 0 and 29 because there are 30 degrees in each sign.

The zodiac signs in a chart are represented by their glyph. If you are not familiar with the different glyphs for each sign, I have them listed for you below under the sample of an astrology chart.

Find your Ascendant

When I write horoscopes, I write them based on the ascendant sign. I recommend to anyone who reads horoscopes and follows astrology in any way to know your rising sign in addition to your Sun sign.

There are free and easy calculators online that will do this for you. If you don’t know your rising sign, go to this link and you can get it quick, easy, and free. You will need your date, time, and location of birth to find out your ascendant.

The Layout of the Astrology Wheel

The Ascendant is the foundation for creating an astrology chart. The sign and degree on the horizon at the time of your birth determine your Ascendant and the starting point of your astrology wheel. The starting point of the wheel is house 1, your ascendant. Here is an example of an astrology chart so you can see what I am referring to:

Astrology Wheel with the 12 houses and an arrow pointing to the first house. The slice on the left side center.
Zodiac signs name and glyph

The Ascendant, house number 1 in your astrology wheel, is always located on the left side of your chart. Look at the numbers in the wheel and you will find ‘1’ which represents your first house. The twelve parts or slices are called astrology houses. Houses provide further astrological information and I have a blog on houses you can read about here.

For a quick reference, here are the descriptions of the twelve astrology houses:

  1. The house of you. Your image, appearance, body, personality, and how it is projected in the world. 

  2. The house of what is yours. Your resources, earned income, money, possessions, self-worth, and security.

  3. Your siblings, what is local and your community, neighbors, near journeys, education and learning style.

  4. Your home, family, roots, tradition, land and real estate.

  5. What pleases you and experiencing pleasure, your creativity, kids, your passions, sport, where you take risk, sex, passion, love affairs, and luck.

  6. The domain of hard-work, service, employees if you have them, anyone who provides a service to you, health problems, domestic animals, and those you are responsible for (not your children). This area highlights providing service to others. From social services to the President or military.

  7. Your committed relationships, marriage, contracts, business partners, clients for freelancers (not employees). This is the house of others and can also represent the competition or adversaries.

  8. Shared resources, creditors, inheritances, others possessions, death, psychology and depth work, experience of grief and loss as part of the human condition.

  9. Your faith and belief system, how you seek higher knowledge, religion, advanced education, long-distance travel, foreign affairs, travel, and journeys.

  10. Your profession, where you find meaning and purpose in life, your direction in life, public life, reputation, authority, your boss (if employed), your highest potential, where you stake your claim in the world, and success.

  11. Your friends, network, colleagues, hopes and aspirations or ideals, good fortune, and how you receive love.

  12. A mystical house, the collective unconscious, hidden places, institutions of containment like hospitals and prisons, potential for self-sabotage, secrets, profound mystical experiences, being part of a mystical group, and loss and sorrow.

Planets are the ‘what.’ They describe the type of energy. Like the Sun is your guiding force and part of the triad of character and personality. Your Mercury will represent your learning, communication, thinking style, and so on.

Zodiac signs are the ‘how.’ They show us how planetary energy is expressed. And the Houses are the ‘where’ and describe the topics, events, and people associated with the planetary expression.

The Ascendant is always the starting point of the chart. Once you have the sign and degree of the zodiac that represents the ascendant, you can draw up the whole chart with all the planets and signs on the wheel.

This is an important role the ascendant makes as it determines the layout of the whole map of your chart. The ascendant changes degrees around every 4 minutes and runs through an entire sign in around 2 hours. In a one-day period, the entire 360 degrees of the zodiac, that is all twelve of the zodiac signs, pass through the ascendant as the earth spins. This is why the accuracy of your birth time is important. 

Ascendant Meaning

Your ascendant sign describes your personality, how you approach the world, it's appearance, and the environment you live in. It is one of the places astrologers evaluate when it comes to your physical body, vitality, and health.

It is important to know that not all people with the same ascendant are going to behave or appear in the same manner. This is because no one piece of your astrology chart is active in a vacuum. A chart interpretation by a professional astrologer takes into account a synthesis of all parts of your chart.

Remember that we start with the mix of the Ascendant, Sun and Moon. This triad will have a great many variations. The relationships this triad makes with the other planets in your chart will highlight even more diversity and individualism from person to person.

Astrology can really help people look at their personality with a way of getting information quickly, and in a way no other self-knowledge tool offers.

Zodiac wheel with name, glyph, and symbol

Your Ascendant Sign


Aries Rising House Wheel with zodiac signs in the house based on an Aries Ascendant.

Of the fire element which describes a dynamic flair. Aries is one of the leadership signs who will step up to take action. Aries wants to express itself without constraint. Aries are known for their impulsivity, reactivity, creativity, passion, drive, and pioneering attitude. 

Aries is full of energy, and doesn’t back down from a challenge. There is a desire for adventure. As the first sign of the western zodiac, Aries is associated with the first equinox of the year and the action of the beginning, the seed, or youthfulness.

Aries live for a challenge and don’t tend to stay idle for long. They are the pioneers of the zodiac who prefer to be out conquering something. The easiest way to get an Aries going is to tell them it’s impossible to achieve their goal. Aries have a huge reservoir of energy to devote to proving you wrong.

The more difficult qualities of Aries rising are impulsivity, speaking before thinking, burning out quickly, easily bored, lacking follow through, and a quick temper.


Taurus rising astrology wheel with the Taurus glyph in the background.

Of the earth element which describes a desire for security, sensual pleasure, and material focused. Taurus is one of the fixed signs that helps the world stay on course, maintain direction, and take care of practical necessities. 

Taurus loves to be pampered and enjoy the finer things in life. A lover of routines, fixity, maintaining the course, building things, and has a knack for being reliable. There is a desire for physical security. Taurus is associated with fertility.

The more difficult qualities of Taurus rising are stubbornness, wanting to stick to simple routines, lacking a desire for adventure, and difficulty changing perspectives.


Gemini rising astrology wheel with the Gemini glyph in the background.

Of the air element which describes a social person who needs to connect with others. Gemini is one of the changeable signs known for their adaptability and flexibility. Gemini loves to communicate and needs a social network to interact with.

Gemini is known for their gift of conversation and is rarely lacking a witty comeback. They are conversational wizards. Gemini thrives in a fast paced and multi-task environment. They can weave in and out of multiple conversations tracking multiple tangents.

Gemini’s speed of thought is incredibly useful. It can also be one of the challenges as sometimes others do not follow multiple conversations at one time. Other Gemini challenges are having a sharp tongue, gossiping, staying in the shallow waters of conversation, and not letting others get a word in.


Cancer rising astrology wheel with the Cancer glyph in the background.

Cancer is of the water element which describes an intuitive and empathic person. Cancer is known for sentimentality, tradition, nurturing, and an archetypal mothering type of personality. They often are great cooks with a keen sense of humor.

Cancer rising is one of the leadership signs who will take action as needed. Like the crab, Cancer tends to move forward by going sideways or zig zagging. It may seem like Cancer is a pushover due to their nurturing personality, but make no mistake, Cancer rising can and will lead with strength and authority due to their quick and sharp instinctual nature. What’s nice is the empathy and compassion that comes with that leadership style.

Some challenges of Cancer rising are holding on to the past, responding from emotions rather than objective rationality, and a tendency to hide their sensitivity inside of a hard and protective outer shell (although at times this can be a positive as well).


Leo rising astrology wheel with the Leo glyph in the background.

Leo is of the fire element indicating a dynamic and creative individual. Creativity comes in all forms. A Leo rising can certainly be an artist by nature or can be highly creative in any field. Leos are known for their protective stance over young ones, especially their own.

Leo has a regal quality to their personality which can also appear in their appearance. Leo-rising folks tend to command attention and usually have some sort of magnetic quality. When you are in the presence of a Leo rising, there is something fascinating that attracts your attention.

Some challenges of Leo rising are keeping the ego in check, acknowledging others' points of view as valid, not realizing they are not the center of everyone’s world, and vanity.


Virgo rising astrology wheel with the Virgo glyph in the background.

Virgo is of the earth element describing someone who is practical, cool, rational, and analytical. Virgo has the unique combination of practicality and sensuality. Virgo is associated with Mercury by rulership indicating intellectual and analytical superpowers.

You can sometimes spot a Virgo by their smart and sharp way of dressing that is understated, but yet very well put together. Virgo is one of the changeable signs with excellent adaptability skills. Virgos are known for their attention to detail and as a desired member of any team who needs excellent logistic and execution skills. As an earth sign, Virgo rising will be keen on stimulating the senses.

Some challenges of Virgo rising are becoming overly critical, especially of oneself, getting lost in the details and missing the big picture, and oversensitivity to constructive feedback.


Libra rising astrology wheel with the Libra glyph in the background.

Libra is of the air element with a charming and social personality that tends to get along with everyone. Libra easily converses with any sector of society, from wearing a ball gown to military uniform to working with underserved populations. Libras love bringing people together and enjoying the aesthetics of the world.

Libra wants to bring peace and mediation wherever they go. This trait makes them great military strategists, lawyers, judges, and mediators. Libras are natural leaders who rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

People follow Libra leaders because they have the best interests of the larger group in mind and are often considered the fairest in a group. While Libra is known for its charm, and often Libra rising is attractive, they are intellectuals seeking mental stimulation.

Some challenges of Libra rising are falling to vanity regarding their looks, a willingness to make a great war for the sake of peace, and for exerting so much energy to achieve a goal that it requires the same amount of time to recover.

This last piece is about how Libras get called lazy sometimes. Usually, it’s not the case that Libra is lazy, but that they are in need of recuperation from over-exertion in large batches of time that does not seem connected to their times of exertion, but they are.


Scorpio rising astrology wheel with the Scorpio glyph in the background.

Scorpio is of the water element and is highly intuitive. There is a deepness to Scorpio that is penetrating, inquisitive, and philosophical. This rising sign has a mysterious quality and most will feel like they don’t really know what is going on inside.

This sign is about honesty and trust and does not take those qualities lightly. Often a Scorpio rising has a few very close friends with which they will share intimate details of their life. Not one for light fluffy conversation, Scorpio likes to peel back the layers and discuss things of importance to them.

You may recognize the penetrating stare of a Scorpio, or the quiet summarizing that they do. They are perceptive and can become highly focused on an interest or project.

Some challenges of Scorpio rising is their sharp and judgmental tongue, being overly secretive, obsessive, holding grudges for long periods of time (or until the end of time), and brutal honesty (which isn’t always bad, but can hurt other's feelings).


Sagittarius astrology wheel with the Sagittarius glyph in the background.

Sagittarius is of the fire element which describes an outgoing and enthusiastic individual. Sag is one of the changeable and adaptable signs and they are often easygoing people. They do like an adventure, more for the experience than the challenge. They have a thirst for experiencing the most out of life just for the sake of the experience.

Sag people, are also associated with the sage and wisdom. They can have many interests and pursue multiple learning experiences. Sometimes university style, sometimes jumping into webinar classes, and sometimes experiential, like backpacking across Europe.

Sag has a lust for life and tends to live life for the experience and adventure it can bring. A Sagittarius rising presents with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude which can uplift those around them and inspire others to live life more fully.

Challenges of a Sagittarius rising can be a tendency to overindulge. They can be the life of the party, but also flake out on you if they made a commitment that doesn’t excite them. Sag can be here today and gone tomorrow and at times does not take things seriously when they should.


Capricorn rising astrology wheel with the Capricorn sign in the background.

Capricorn is of the earth element describing someone who is determined, strategic, and tenacious. Capricorn is a natural leader and often carries themself like they are a CEO.

Capricorns like to see the facts, control the situation, and generally aren’t very woo-woo.

You can bet that when a Capricorn is in charge, things get done. Their determination usually lands them in high-level positions, and material security will carry great meaning for them. Capricorns are known to be responsible, dependable, and driven to succeed. 

They tend toward the tradition of the culture they are raised in. They will be drawn to the finer things in life and luxury items. This is an earth element sign and Caps will want to experience sensual pleasure of the senses. Physical touch will be desired by this sign.

Challenges for a Capricorn rising are being overly rigid, having difficulty loosening up and enjoying life, overworking, and can be overly demanding in authority roles.


Aquarius rising astrology wheel with the Aquarius glyph in the background.

Aquarius is of the air element indicating someone with a large social network. Aquarius rising folk tend to be on the cutting edge of whatever they are focused on in life. They like to rebel against the norm and make it better or reformed.

This is an independent sign that is of the fixed modality. Once Aquarius sets its sights on a cause that is important, they stay the course and their ideology is not easily swayed. This is a sign that has a genius quality to it because it taps into fresh intellectual ideas.

Aquarius is a highly social sign that tends to focus this social nature on large groups, reform, and humanitarian causes. This sign can be happy working alone if they do not see a benefit to their work in a team setting. They tend to focus their social life around their causes and interests.

A great way to understand Aquarius rising is to think of the water bearer, the symbolic representation of the sign. This is a human carrying the water jug, which represents the cause they are rebelling for. Aquarius is rational and objective, perfect for carrying the emotional plea (water jug) of a cause.

Challenges to Aquarius rising is feeling alone and isolated because their ideas can be ahead of their time, needing to be able to express their individualism and having to deal with being perceived as eccentric, and being misunderstood as cold for their objective and rational approach to life.


Pisces rising horoscope wheel with the Pisces glyph in background.

Pisces is of the water element and can easily slip into the idea of we over me. This water sign is also a changeable sign making it the most adaptable sign of the zodiac. Pisces loves to connect with others on an emotional level and often are empaths.

As an empath, who can feel what others are feeling, they are softies for others and make excellent friends and support partners for their friends and families. Pisces ability to tap into the collective unconscious opens them to an array of interesting qualities.

Pisces rising can be the quintessential metaphysical person. One who seems dreamy even as an office executive. Their eyes are deep wells of emotion that send supportive vibes just looking at them. Many Pisces rising have innate artistic qualities.

Pisces desire to merge with others and enjoy shared experiences. They have a great love of the arts and are often artistic. Pisces rising are easy-going people and enjoy a large variety of activities.

Challenges for Pisces rising are trusting too fast and easily, giving too much, or expecting too much back from others, and losing themselves in others in the glee of being we at the expense of their own individuality. Watch out for falling into codependent relationships.


The above descriptions are general because your ascendant does not operate alone. No part of your chart operates alone, it is the synthesis of your chart that brings astrology to life.

This is one piece of the character and personality triad, but an important one because when you know your rising sign, you can read horoscopes for your sign which will provide a deeper understanding. When you read for your sun sign and rising sign, it will be more comprehensive than reading for your sun sign alone.

It is possible that your rising sign and sun sign are the same. In these cases, you will likely be someone who feels more connected to your sun sign than those with their rising sign in a zodiac sign that is different from their Sun.

When we consider your Ascendant, we consider the Sun and Moon as well to get a foundation of personality and character. This knowledge helps a person understand the why and who of personality when going through self-growth and understanding.

Professional astrologers will look at all the planets, and the important points like your ascendant sign, and synthesize them to help people make sense of the chart. Astrologers then look at the movement in the sky to help people plan and prepare for what’s to come.

If you would like to have your chart interpreted, make an appointment for a consultation with me.


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