The Ascendant – Your “First Life” Avatar

January 22nd, 2011

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.

What's your rising sign? (Xbox NXE avatar. Source: Wikipedia)

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.

30 Responses to “The Ascendant – Your “First Life” Avatar”

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  2. Lia says:

    Thanks for the interesting article. Very cool read.

    My Sun is in Sagittarius, my Moon is in Aries, both fire signs.

    The very second I read the part of your article that said that when your Sun and/or Moon conflict with your Ascendant “people can receive a very different impression of you than who you really are,” I thought, “BINGO! That’s SO true for me!” It’s very frustrating, and does indeed “lead to the feeling that others don’t understand you.”

    My past is filled with instances where, upon first meeting me, people tend to treat me as though I am a generally submissive person, and/or an automatic “follower,” which is totally NOT the case, and I usually have to put forth extra effort to assert my will and my boundaries. I’m much better at it than now than I used to be (which I’m sure is the whole karmic point that astrological placement), but dealing with it never ceases to be annoying. It’s an emotional trigger that I still have trouble defusing sometimes.

    Is it a given that one ends up physically looking like their Ascendant qualities, or is this something that can be consciously worked with and changed? If you happen to have any wisdom to share about how best manage these energies, I’d totally be open an grateful to hear it! :)


  3. guest498 says:

    hello I read your post but I have a question, my sun sign is sagittarius, moon pisces and ascendant gemini. If it is like you say the ascendant being the face you show to the world I don’t understand why the face I show to the world is quite different, in fact when I meet new people I’m usually reserved, or even shy I rarely go talking with people I don’t know well, sometimes I even stick around people I know in order to meet others. It is my understanding that gemini is very “chatty” and likes to meet new people but I feel like I’m the opposite, I also have a lot of strong capricorn in my chart… I wonder if that could influence those things?

  4. cala says:

    Hi Ellen-

    My ascendant is scorpio, sun in gemini, moon in pisces…I’m very curious of the interruption. Thanks

  5. Tesa says:

    Hello again!

    I feel like my sun (sagittarius) and ascendant (leo) are nice and happy and compatible… then, enter a wild moon in pisces!

    i have often felt like this combo has a lot of underlying intensity and moodiness which just immediately shows on the surface, whether i want it to or not (like when i need to go cry in the stairwell at work… errr). At the same time, I like my emotional depth and passionate caring about others and the planet. I think that maybe my fiery sun and rising signs could aid me in bringing some of these stirrings into action… if i could only get clear on how and what exactly it is i want to accomplish! hmmm….

    • admin says:

      Yes, Tesa, that’s the bane of so much mutability – there are so many choices, so many interests, so many possibilities it’s hard to decide exactly what to pursue. But when mutable people do decide, then watch out. They are efficient and brilliant, so things come together fast!

  6. michelle says:

    Hi Ellen -

    Yes, I am curious about the fit of my ascendant (Scorpio), with my sun (Aries) and moon (Gemini). Just in case I did not get those right – i am April 13, 1959, 8pm in san angeleo, TX.

    I have been enjoying your blog -

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Michelle. I’ll get back to you when I get back from Panchakarma. Thanks for leaving your comment.

    • admin says:

      Michelle, your Sun in Aries and Moon in Gemini are quite compatible. The Sun in Aries is a self-starter, an assertive and freedom-loving individual. Usually there is a strong need for independence. The Moon in Gemini is curious with a basic need for mental stimulation. These two can compliment each other, keeping you light-hearted, interesting, and on the move.

      The Scorpio Ascendant is another matter. Oftentimes, Scorpio comes across as deep, withdrawn, wary, and intense – someone who has seen it all and ponders the meaning of life with gravity. People may be a little afraid to approach you at first as they sense a penetrating wisdom that could uncover their deepest secrets.

      But that’s not who you are inside! Your playful, multi-faceted, and energetic self can be submerged in the deep waters of Scorpio. You probably need to make an effort to reveal your sunny side early in a relationship so people can feel more relaxed around you right away.

  7. Nicole says:


    I’m catching up on your posts and this one intrigues.

    I have Jupiter ascending…if I’m reading it correctly. (May 31, 1972 9:31 PM) Capricorn Moon and Gemini Sun.

    It is interesting to me right now especially because I’ve found that I am recently being “seen” differently than I have in the past–new audience of course, and this feels more authentic and yet I am still confused by some work people and their talk of me as elusive and aloof. I do lack transparency sometimes I think…for the sake of protecting what I am thinking until it is more solid, but “elusive” intrigues me and bothers me a bit.

    Also, I find that new acquaintances tell me very intimate private bouts of their life early in our relationship. I’m often jolted by this and wonder what I give off in others feeling so close to me so soon.


    • admin says:

      Yes, Nicole, you do have Jupiter rising as it is a planet in your first house. Your Ascendant, though, is Sagittarius. So you would say, I’m a Sagittarius rising (with Jupiter in the first house).

      I think the Sagittarius rising is a good outlet for your Gemini Sun. It’s like there’s a threshold that’s easily crossed when someone gets to know you better. You are who they thought you were in terms of your essence. It’s a good fit. Your Capricorn Moon is much more serious and emotionally vulnerable than either your Ascendant or your Sun expresses. This may lead to people sensing an aloofness.

      But the “elusive” comments and the intimate stories people tell you say to me that more is coming through that Ascendant than just your Sun and Moon. You have a very strong Neptune and while I’m surprised people can sense it immediately, it is no wonder they feel your inborn compassion. You also have a very strong Pluto and I’ve noticed that people are very comfortable around Pluto people because people sense there is nothing that would shock you or cause you to condemn them, so they open right up! But we’re getting beyond just the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant here.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Nicole says:

        Is there a good resource to learn more about my Capricorn Moon? Is this the sense that I avoid emotional vulnerability by being aloof–or protective that feels aloof?


        • admin says:

          Yes, Nicole, I do think the Capricorn Moon is represented by the “aloof” front which shields fear and vulnerability. I just searched for something you could read and I haven’t come up with anything yet. I’ve lived with someone with a Capricorn Moon for 28 years, and before that some members of my family have it too. So I know its energy well: practical, determined, successful, and guarded.

        • Peerless says:

          Holy cconsie data batman. Lol!

  8. Annie B says:

    Hi Ellen. I’ve been thinking about this post for days now. I have a Cancer sun (cusp of Leo), Virgo moon, Aquarius rising. I did some reading about all three signs and positions and I came away feeling a “fit;” that all three descriptions jibe with my understanding of myself. I do remember when I was young that I felt a lot of dissonance between my public and private selves, but that has melted away over the years (thankfully!) and now I mostly enjoy moving through the different personas. I don’t feel that any of them are inauthentic, just different manifestations of my self. At any rate, I just read your profile of Yoko Ono the Aquarian and gained even more understanding of my Aquarius “avatar.” Thanks so much for sharing your explorations of astrology, and educating this novice!

    • admin says:

      Hi, Annie. I’ve been thinking about you thinking about my post on the Ascendant. Thanks for making the point about the dissonance between public and private selves falling away. I think that’s a mark of progress toward wholeness. Being able to don a certain persona when necessary implies a loosening of attachment to any one “face”, right?

      Thanks for your comment on the Yoko Ono piece. Yes, I understand astrological jargon best when I look at real people’s lives and see the markers there. It’s a way I learn the language best.

  9. Natalie says:

    Hi Ellen. Great blog! I love your thoughts on seeing the Asc as an avatar. I think my Scorpio Asc is a St. George type. I’m not a person to make a good first impression – most people don’t notice me at first. Usually I lurk in the background somewhere, checking peoples bookshelves, until I feel comfortable. That Virgo Sun-Moon is not an “out-there”combination. I should think the Scorpio – Virgo combination is quite good, though? something about their glyphs …

    • admin says:

      Hi, Natalie. Yes, I think most people with Scorpio Ascendant feel the way you do, unless they are completely unaware of the impression they give others. I think Scorpio and Virgo are quite compatible, too. But there are two types of Scorpio Ascendant I’ve seen – the reticent type would convey the Virgo well except people might miss the Virgo curiosity at first glance. The other Scorpio type is quite emotional and dramatic. I don’t think the Virgo would approve of such a display and might recede even further into the background. But I agree, their glyphs have always fascinated me too.

  10. Kanti says:

    Hi Ellen, what are your thoughts on Libra rising with sun and moon conjunct in Capricorn and a 0 degree Saturn in Cap too! Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi, Kanti. I would say that people get a very different first impression of you than they see after they get to know you. You probably come off as very Venusian: graceful, accommodating, possibly self-effacing. But underneath there’s steel, or as Bikram Choudhury says, bulldog determination. You are probably way more grounded and practical than you seem as first glance. A difficult combination at first, but an excellent pairing for business success or management. You know what you want but you can express it with cooperative spirit that probably makes people want to work with you, and be with you.

  11. Taylor T. says:

    Thanks Ellen. I would love to hear how my trio relate. Sun is Pisces, Moon is Aquarius, and Ascendant is Gemini.

    • admin says:

      Hi, Taylor.

      One thing about a Gemini Ascendant is it is adaptable; it can express many different modes, roles, points of view, and astrological configurations. Gemini Ascendant has been described as a monkey, able to mimic anything it comes in contact with. The Moon in Aquarius has an emotional need for interaction with groups and friends, especially people involved in humanitarian or forward-looking endeavors. This meshes well with the Gemini ability for communication and openness to learning.

      The Pisces Sun has a bigger challenge. As a mutable sign, like Gemini, the Pisces Sun person has a whole range of interests and seeks an emotional involvement with everyone and everything. The dry and witty Gemini Ascendant may not immediately reveal your compassionate and heartfelt side; your challenge is to learn to use Gemini words in service to your mystical, sweet, “lover of life” self. Poetry, perhaps?

  12. NR says:

    Enjoyed this post, Ellen. Thank you for sharing. xxx

  13. Laura D. says:

    Hi Ellen… very clear article. As I have opposites in sun and ascendent (Pisces Sun, virgo ascendent) your comment about ‘misrepresenting yourself’ is intriguing. The energy of the ascendent is quite strong in ‘public’ situations; perhaps it is also about being comfortable that there are multiple selves, and only some people get to see the whole package. Thanks for the article.

    • admin says:

      Yes, Laura, I agree and thanks for making that point. The Ascendant is quite strong or useful when in ‘public’ situations; when we’re in situations which draw forth a more authentic or whole presentation we can reveal deeper aspects of ourselves. I think recognizing the choice we are constantly making is key.

      Multiple selves – I like that – and it sounds like something a Pisces/Virgo would say!

  14. Deborah Nance says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Great article, and for the first time I get it! My sun is Taurus, my moon in Venus (I think…if I remember correctly) and my rising sign is Cancer. (Born May 7, 1951…Eldora, Iowa…9:34am) Saturn also challenges Venus in my birth chart. I appreciate your offer to help me understand if my Ascendant truly represents me.

    Thank you very much!

    • admin says:

      Hi, Deborah. Thanks for commenting.

      Your Sun is in Taurus; your Moon is in Gemini, as is your Venus, and yes, you have Cancer on the Ascendant. As you say, Saturn challenges your Venus, but since neither Saturn nor Venus rule your Ascendant, they don’t apply to this question.

      Actually, the Taurus Sun and the Cancer Ascendant are quite compatible in that they are both receptive and yielding. Your Cancer Ascendant may give the first impression that you are more emotional and focused on your family than you truly are inside. The Taurus Sun is more steady and stable, and material security is important. But these two can blend their expression as a steady, reliable person who can give comfort and express yourself well in dealing with your own and others’ emotional needs.

      Your Moon is another story. The Gemini Moon feels secure when learning, speaking, and communicating. A rational thinker, you may have a challenge convincing others of your linear, logical side when what they see is an intuitive, earth-mother type. It may even be troublesome to you; you could feel frustrated with an inability to pursue your multiple interests. You own sense of security and comfort comes from clarity and interaction with other “students” of your many interests.

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