Rising Sign (Ascendant): Our Perception of Everything

So what is a Rising Sign anyway?

Even if we don’t believe in astrology, many of us know our astrological Sun signs. I’m a Scorpio, you’re a _______.

But occasionally, we might hear the term Rising Sign. Someone might say yes, I’m a Sagittarius with Libra rising. Say what?

What exactly is a Rising Sign (also known as the Ascendant) and why would it garner so much attention as to be mentioned in the same phrase as a Sun sign? And, what significance does it have on your life?

In astrology, there is what is known as The Big Three: Your Sun sign, Moon Sign, and your Rising sign. (You can read more about your Moon Sign HERE) Granted, your Sun sign is a really big deal: it carries such weight because all of the stars in our Solar System revolve around the Sun. So it is in our astrological charts: the placement of our Sun by sign and house tells us about our identity, our self, how we direct our will.

This is immense.  

Rising sign, birth chart, natal chart

So why is our Rising Sign of such import?  

Because it is the literal starting point of our entire chart. It is the eastern-most point on our chart at the moment of our birth. Thus the Rising Sign determines where every single planet falls in our chart.  

So what does this mean for you? How does it affect you?

The Rising Sign indicates our initial reactions to the world, our perception of everything.

Think about that.  

Initial impressions count for SO much! They often stay with us and do not change unless something or someone makes a greater impression to alter our first reaction.  As a result, the Rising Sign also determines our initial response to the world. How we engage and interact.

As Jeanne Avery writes in her book, The Rising Sign, “The Rising Sign/Ascendant can act like a wall or a façade that an individual erects around himself. It is often like a mask that he hides behind, simply because it is concerned with survival issues. It describes the part of the personality that is most easily expressed. It is also how a person allows others to see him.”

Think of yourself at a gathering of people: backyard barbecue or cocktail party. There might be people there that you know and some you don’t. Your Rising Sign determines your initial reaction to a new person at the gathering. How you interpret their appearance, speech, choice of conversation, etc. Consequently, your interpretation decides your response to all of the above. This is the Rising Sign in action. A Libra Rising will engage with someone new to them very differently than say, a Leo Rising.

Once we are comfortable interacting with said new person, we might reveal our Sun sign. And, as happens, we get really in the flow of dialogue with that person, we will reveal our Moon sign, our most interior self. “Hey, let’s meet for coffee next week. I want to tell you more/learn more about X, Y, Z…”

And so it goes.

In order to learn your Rising Sign, you need to know your birth data: exact time, date and place of birth. This can be tricky as often in days of yore, hospitals failed to note the time on the birth certificate. However, it is Federal Law since the 1930s that ALL birth times are to be recorded. To learn your birth time, contact the Vital Records department of the City or Town where you were born. When ordering a new birth certificate, specifically ask that the time of birth be noted on the new copy.


Once you have that, any practicing astrologer can calculate and interpret your natal chart for you. This is your gift from the Universe! Your natal chart is a roadmap that shows where you are going in life, how you might get there utilizing your blessings and challenges.

So then, what does your rising sign mean?

Below is a brief outline of Rising Signs and their mask/worldly perception and interpretation:

Aries Rising


bold, pioneering, brave, brash, impulsive, impetuous, idealistic

Taurus Rising


sensual, earthy, demonstrative, material, reluctant, steadfast

Gemini Rising


inquisitive, quick, talkative, engaging, stimulating, mischievous, agile

Cancer Rising


sensitive, empathic, empathetic, sympathetic, intuitive, caring

Leo Rising


regal, dramatic, dominant, sparkling, vibrant, entertaining, humorous

Virgo Rising


objective, analytical, mercurial, questioning, orderly, clean, decisive

Libra Rising


gracious, social, diplomatic, refined, charming, polite, harmonious, judicious

Scorpio Rising


intense, deeply observant, persevering, magnetic, keenly perceptive/aware

Sagittarius Rising


happy-go-lucky, philosophical, optimistic, enthusiastic, curious, free, dynamic

Capricorn Rising


remote, shy, determined, practical, serious, mature, proper, stoic

Aquarius Rising


spontaneous, off-beat, unique, maverick, intellectual, eccentric, individual

Pisces Rising


visionary, glamorous, adaptable, dreamy, reflective, fragile, innocent, inspirational

If you are interested in learning more about your rising sign and influences in your life, please contact me and check out my services HERE.


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AUTHOR: Hilary Harley is an OSYL Astrologer & Reiki Master. She offers astrological counseling and Reiki energy healing to help clients reach their highest potential. By understanding the role that planetary cycles play in their lives, they are empowered to make better decisions resulting in more rewarding and fulfilling lives.

Find out more about Hilary and her services HERE.