The ascendant ( or As), or rising sign, is the zodiacal sign and degree that was ascending on the eastern horizon at the specific time and location of an event. According to astrological theory, celestial phenomena reflect or determine human activity on the principle of ‘as above so below’. Thus astrologers believe that the ascendant signifies a person’s awakening consciousness, in the same way that the Sun’s appearance on the eastern horizon signifies the dawn of a new day.
Because the ascendant is specific to a particular time and place, to astrologers it signifies the individual environment and conditioning that a person receives during their upbringing, and also the circumstances of their childhood. For this reason astrologers believe that the ascendant is also concerned with how a person has learned to present themself to the world, especially in public and in impersonal situations. To astrologers, in some circumstances, it can function as a shield or mask to guard a person’s real nature – in other words the ‘defense mechanism’ every person has to cope with unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. Astrologers believe the ascendant also has a strong bearing on a person’s physical appearance and overall health.
The Ascendant is thus considered to be of great significance in all schools of astrology because it in effect serves as the filter through which everything in a horoscope- including the Sun and Moon- is expressed. Most astrologers believe that the Rising Sign exerts an influence equal to or more powerful than the Sun and Moon. In Jyotish, the ascendant is without question the most individual and defining element in the chart.
Ascendant fire signs
The fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are noted for their energy, enthusiasm and optimism. When a fire sign is on the ascendant the outer manner is friendly, uncritical and non-hostile, which makes such people good mixers and public relations executives. They typically send out friendly, but professionally competent signals which draw out a friendly and rather respectful response from others. Aries rising gives out a well-organized, slightly military bearing which makes them fit for any kind of military or civil service organization. Leo rising subjects have a dignified and rather formal manner which inspires confidence; while Sagittarius risers have a cheerful, pleasant and rather witty outer manner which suits all kinds of teaching, training and public speaking situations.
Ascendant earth signs
The earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are noted for their practicality and security. When an earth sign is on the ascendant the outer manner is shy, serious and cautious. Taurus risers are the most sociable of the three and are often musical or artistic. Virgo risers look for mental stimulation in others, while Capricorn risers enjoy both work and social pursuits. People with these ascendants send out signals which are pleasant and tactful suggesting that they prefer to form part of a team – at least to begin with – than to push themselves immediately to the front.
Ascendant air signs
The air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are noted for their communication skills. When an air sign is on the ascendant the subject is friendly and sociable, but also independent and somewhat detached. The Gemini riser is constantly busy, fully engaged in a kind of juggling act, with at least a dozen activities on the go at any one time. The Libra riser occupies him or herself with business schemes which often need the aid of a more earthy partner to make them come into fruition. The Aquarius riser makes wonderful plans for himself and others and may even carry some of them out.
Ascendant water signs
The water signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are noted for their emotion, intuition and feeling. When a water sign is on the ascendant the subject will hide their true feelings and have a strong need to protect themselves from the world around them. What you see is often not what you get with water ascendants. In other words, the signals they send out are consciously or unconsciously chosen for effect. Cancerians appear chatty and helpful and they do well in any situation that requires tact. Scorpio risers can use many different forms of camouflage with people they do not know, one of their favourites being offensiveness and an off-putting manner. Pisces risers appear soft, gentle, self-sacrificing and sometimes even helpless, but this is misleading, as they will fight strongly for what they think is right.