It took me a long time to really understand the Ascendant in the natal chart. The Ascendant, or the Rising Sign, is the sign on the eastern horizon at the moment of your birth. The astronomy of it was clear to me; the meaning wasn’t.
The reason I couldn’t understand it is because my own Ascendant is a little complicated. When I was born the Moon was almost exactly on my Gemini Ascendant, as was the ruler of my Sun, Jupiter. They were so melded into each other it took years before I could untangle whether I was experiencing my Moon or my Sun or my Ascendant.
Did you ever play in the online world Second Life? I never explored it much but I did create an avatar. (That’s not her to the right!) I love her – she is a lot younger looking than me and she dresses really cool. She has great hair and is friendly and outgoing. Actually, she’s a lot like my rising sign, Gemini. She has Gemini flair, a bounce in her step, and as I said, really cool clothes.
One way I now think of the Ascendant is as an avatar in “First Life,” this life, the one we live in now. The Ascendant can be understood as a persona you create and send forth to interact with the other avatars in First Life.
Another example may make it more clear. I remember when I was a teen I would drive around in my parents’ car with the windows down and the radio or tape deck up loud. When I saw someone I knew, I would leave the music on or even turn it up, transmitting the music as a stand-in for me. The music was my attempt to create an impression. It was a persona I projected, even unconsciously at the time; it was a slice of me I sent forth to represent me.
The Ascendant in the chart can be understood as an avatar, or a rock and roll song, or a style of dress, or a part of a personality, or a role. We are constantly sending out these personas, and masking them according to how we want others to perceive us. It is a most natural skill of a human being. It’s like using shorthand for a certain situation: the whole self does not need to step forward, so we send out an abbreviation instead.
One of my teachers says to imagine the Ascendant as how you behave when you go to a party and you don’t know anyone there. As you interact with others, what side of you do they see? Are you chatty, reserved, bashful, boastful, serious, the life of the party? This is the face of your Ascendant.
Our physical bodies are also described by the Ascendant in the sense that they are costumes donned by our whole being to operate in this physical realm. It’s like the body is our sensing instrument, conveying information back to central command. It’s also a space suit, or rather, an earth suit that is able to act and interact with the earth environment. Most people perceive each other through the Ascendant, through the body. It is a rare person who can immediately see through the apparent figure to the powerful energies that are working inside the whole being.
It’s not a matter of the Ascendant being a dishonest representation of ourselves. On the contrary, it is the tool that our whole self uses to experience and interact with this world. As we recognize the difference between the Ascendant and the energies of our whole self, symbolized by the Sun and Moon and planets in a chart, we can become more careful about using the Ascendant to convey a conscious expression of ourselves rather than an unconscious mask or costume.
How well does your avatar, your Ascendant, express what’s inside you? That depends on the compatibility of the sign on your Ascendant with the other factors in your astrology chart, especially the Sun and the Moon. If the Sun and Moon are in signs compatible with your Ascendant, then the Ascendant serves more naturally as a doorway to your true inner being. If your Sun and/or Moon is in a conflicting sign with your Ascendant, then people can receive a very different impression of you than who you really are. This can lead to the feeling that others don’t understand you, when actually you are misrepresenting yourself through your body, your posture, your dress, or your mannerisms.
Just by becoming more aware of our Ascendant, we not only express a more authentic face to the world, but we also can attain a much deeper understanding of others. Just by remembering, as we view the person in front of us, that we are seeing only a costume and not the whole person, we can experience a radical shift in our perception of other people.
Do you know the sign on your Ascendant? How well does it represent who you truly are? If you have your chart, your Ascendant is the sign between house 12 and house 1 to the very left of your chart. If you’d like to leave in the comments your Ascendant, Sun Sign, and Moon Sign, I’ll respond with a few words about how they all fit, or don’t fit, together.
If you don’t have your chart, go to my other site, Astro4Business Intersections, and look in the side bar to request a free copy of your chart. One caveat: you have to know your exact time of birth to get an accurate Ascendant, as the degree on the horizon changes every 4 minutes.