Why is that Leo so unassuming and self-abnegating? Isn’t Leo a flamboyant sign? He has a Capricorn Ascendant. That Pisces friend who is always running around, talking about everything under the Sun, has a Gemini Ascendant. That man who has been married quite a few times, who is given to some fairly rude and shocking “observations” about others. He has a rather critical Virgo Moon and a say-it-like-it-is Mercury in Aquarius. However, he always seems to come across as a nice guy. His Libra Ascendant gives him a smooth, overall charm that keeps people from thinking him difficult (except perhaps, his ex-wives).
The Ascendant (or rising sign) is often considered the mask one wears when meeting others. Perhaps it is most aptly thought of as the automatic responses to one’s environment. The Ascendant shows our natural defenses and how we cope with day-to-day issues. The energies of the sign and condition of the Ascendant are most overt and obvious to others. The Ascendant shows an individual’s first, natural reaction to new people and situations.
The Ascendant (also known the “rising sign”) is the sign on the cusp of the first house of the natal chart. It is the sign (and degree of that sign) that is rising on the Eastern horizon at the moment of birth, with respect to the place of birth. It is often represented in its abbreviated form: ASC.
The Ascendant is one of the four angles of the chart. The other three are the Descendant (directly opposite the Ascendant), the Imum Coeli (IC), and the Midheaven (MC).
The Ascendant defines, in part, the first impression we make on others in a personal rather than professional sense. It represents our physical appearance, our physical bodies and overall health, and the body ego. The Ascendant is often referred to as the mask we wear, although I don’t consider it to be as superficial as this might suggest. What it does represent is our natural and personal defense mechanisms that we use to adapt to, and cope with, our environment.
The Ascendant also shows our first impressions of the world around us, and reveals our expectations of the world around us–whether we are naturally hesitant or enthusiastic, for example. How we begin new projects, and our attitude towards new experiences come under the rule of the Ascendant.
What follows are general interpretations of the sign position of the Ascendant. Remember that these characteristics are modified by planets conjunct the Ascendant, planets that aspect the Ascendant, and the position of the ruling planet of the sign on the Ascendant. For example, a person with an Aries Ascendant with its ruling planet, Mars, in Sagittarius will respond to the environment a little differently than another person, also with an Aries Ascendant, but whose Mars is in Scorpio. Similarly, a person with a Pisces Ascendant who also has Saturn conjunct it will “behave” differently than someone with a Pisces Ascendant who does not have that aspect.