Image: Sky Safari
The Russians say that, in order to really know someone, you have to eat 2 pounds of salt together, which equates to approximately 2 years of sharing every meal with the person. Astrology agrees: your Sun sign (your personality and your core being) and your Moon sign (your emotions) are not what the others see immediately. The energy of your Sun and your Moon unfolds as people get to know you better. What the world sees at the first glance at you is your Ascendant sign – the Zodiac sign that was rising over the horizon at the time of your birth. It was coming out in the sky at the time you were born, and you express the energy of this sign every time you present yourself to the world.
Someone with the Leo Sun (indicating a creative performer and the lover of a stage) may be an accomplished jazz musician, but people who don’t know him much would see this guy in a business suit as an ambitious businessman (Capricorn Ascendant) and would never suspect that he has a creative playful side and can perform on stage, until they get to know the person better and receive his invitation to the club. A woman can be an aspiring writer with the Gemini Sun (for writing and communicating), but the people who meet her may only see a housewife preoccupied with cooking and taking care of her children (Cancer Ascendant). Are these two people a businessman and a housewife? Yes, of course they are, but these descriptions don’t go deep under the surface deep and are not very insightful ones. The choices, creativity, and self-expression are defined by the Sun signs, but the image is defined by the Ascendant signs. To understand how you come across and what you reveal to others, you need to find out your Ascendant sign.
What exactly is your Ascendant sign? This is the Zodiac sign that was rising over the horizon at the moment of your birth. In the horoscope, Ascendant is the most quickly moving feature – it changes every couple of hours as the Earth rotation makes the rising point of the Zodiac change. Furthermore, Ascendant changes with a change in a location, just like the clock time changes. We all know that the Sun rises at different times in various points of the World (it’s the morning of a new day in Australia when we start our evening here on the American continent), and similar difference in time applies to the Ascendant – at the same point in time, Taurus can be rising in California, while Gemini will be the rising sign in Poland. This is one of the reasons why people born at the same moment in different locations do not have the same psychological makeup or the same life events and milestones.
If you are looking at the skies, it is important to remember that the rising constellation does not correspond to the rising Zodiac sign in Western astrology: the Zodiac signs and the constellations don’t coincide anymore due to the shift determined by the wobble of the Earth axis, which changes the beginning point of the Zodiac over time. The Western astrology is based on the solar path and solar seasons and divides the path of the Sun into equal 12 signs starting with the Vernal Equinox sunrise, so that the signs do not equal constellations. Signs and constellations did coincide a long time ago, when the astrology was in its newborn state, but this correspondence has been lost with the time, and this does not matter at all. The Western astrology is not relying on constellations, and, despite of a recent alarm from the writers who did not understand the premise of the Western approach and were warning the readers about the “sign change”, the signs have always remained and will always remain the same, independently of whether they coincide with the constellations or not. The difference between before and now is that before an observer of the skies could know the rising Zodiac sign just by looking at the rising constellation, but now we need to do calculations or consult the astrological software to find out what the rising sign is. Despite the lack of the direct connection between the Western Tropical Zodiac signs and the constellations, we still kept the names of the signs that were named after the constellations when the two coincided on the past.
The approach is not the same in other astrological traditions, e.g., in Indian Vedic Astrology. This ancient form of astrology uses Sidereal Zodiac – the division of the path of the Sun and the planets into 12 signs loosely based on constellations rather than based on the season like the Western astrology does. So, the constellation of Aries does rise over the horizon at the same time as the Aries sign of the Vedic Sidereal Zodiac. Again, a long time ago, the Sidereal Zodiac and the Western Tropical Zodiac did coincide but they don’t coincide anymore, due to the same reason as the disconnect between the constellations and the Western Zodiac signs. Astrology is an art of interpretations of the celestial events, and, as long as the traditional Indian-mythology-based interpretations are used with the Sidereal Zodiac and the traditional Western-mythology-based interpretations are used with the Tropical Zodiac in the work of the Western astrologers, both types of reading result in correct and insightful information.
How can you use the knowledge of your Ascendant sign? Exactly as you used the knowledge of your Sun sign! When you are reading horoscopes for Zodiac signs, read two: one for your Sun sign and another for your Ascendant sign. You will relate to both of them, and may be even more to your Ascendant sign horoscope than to your Sun sign horoscope, just because of the technical issues with the predictions for the Sun signs that do not affect the predictions for the Ascendant sign. The problem with the mass-horoscopes is that they don’t take in account the position of the planets on the horoscope wheel, which is individual for every person and defines what areas of our lives would be affected by the celestial events. However, this issue does not arise with the Ascendant, because the Ascendant is always in the same point of the horoscope wheel (it is ancored and, in fact, defines all other angles and divisions of the horoscope wheel). Thus, the predictions for the sign of the Ascendant, are a subject to fewer errors and are more precise even if they are not tailored to an individual.
How to find out the sign of your Ascendant? Of course, your astrologer will give you the exact sign and the degree of your Ascendant, but you can also find the information using free programs available on the Internet. Here are a couple of sites that offer a free chart calculation: