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What Does Your Ascendant Mean? The 12 Faces We Show the World

This post was written by Anna
on March 10, 2010 | Comments (20)

I’ve heard the term “rising sign” bandied about for years, from the mentions in Hollywood films to the horoscopes in my daily paper. It never quite struck a chord with me, however, until I realized that my Virgo Ascendant was the reason I didn’t embody my Leo sun sign: I lack a head of fiery curls, and I have never had any real desire to be the center of attention. Why was I almost the antithesis of a Leo? For years I just didn’t quite understand.

Your rising sign (or ascendant, the two terms are used interchangeably) is the zodiacal sign that was on the Eastern horizon when you were born. Ascendants change in two-hour intervals, with the entire zodiac being represented in one 24-hour day; that said, you chose to enter this world during one of those two-hour periods. The rising sign at the moment of your birth is the one you will embody not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

Your Ascendant is often considered to be that by which other people understand us; when meeting others, they will see you through the lens of your Ascendant, rather than your sun sign. Our Ascendants show our natural, knee-jerk reaction to new people and situations.

Not know your exact time of birth? Take a gander at the detailed Ascendant descriptions below. My guess is that you can readily pick out your Ascendant (especially if you have the time narrowed down to at least a portion of the day, say early morning or late evening).

Aries Rising: In Astrology for Beginners, Joann Hampar gives this excellent description of an Aries Ascendant: “The Aries Ascendant gives an outgoing personality—one who is energetic and impulsive. If you have this cardinal fire sign on the Ascendant, you express enthusiasm, impatience, and a zest for life. You are not easily deterred, and when presented with a challenge, you rise to the occasion.” Most likely, your hair is relatively sparse, and you are reddish in complexion.

Taurus Rising: Someone with a Taurus Rising will be strong and steady, with a quiet personality. These individuals will be rather stubborn, though, as they are bulls. You stay true to your word, and do what you will to provide a comfortable life for yourself and your loved ones. You will have a serene appearance, though you may have a prominent neck or a stocky build.

Gemini Rising: The Gemini Ascendant is friendly and talkative, with a witty charm and youthful personality (not to mention appearance!).  Those with a Gemini Rising is most concerned with the flow of information—most importantly, the flow of information to help them broaden their social circles. Your face is heart-shaped, and you have long, graceful fingers.

Cancer Rising: The Cancer Ascendant provides a shy and sensitive disposition; you may get easily flustered when in new situations or environments. You will be responsive to the needs of others (perhaps even seen as mothering), and have a strong intuition and sixth sense. Your face is likely round (reflective of the water full moon), and your hands are small and square.

Leo Rising: “The Leo Ascendant gives a friendly and self-confident personality, one who walks with pride and assurance. If you have this fixed fire sign on the Ascendant, you are courageous and don’t mind taking risks,” says Joann Hampar in Astrology for Beginners. These are people who simply can’t help but be noticed. Those with a Leo Rising are prone to drama; nothing these individuals do is small. Your hair is a mane of flowing curls, and your eyes may be cat-like in shape.

Virgo Rising: The Virgo Ascendant gives a youthful appearance—you will always look younger than your years. These individuals are intelligent and reserved, but are willing to work at something until it is absolutely perfect (given the analytical and methodical nature of Virgo). You may be a master of many crafts, but still plagued by self-doubt that your efforts are never quite good enough. Your body frame tends toward the lean side, and your long, thin lips will accentuate this. Whether or not you are aware of it, you tend to talk with your hands.

Libra Rising: Like those with a Gemini Rising, those with a Libra Rising are charming and creative. These individuals can be incredibly persuasive. You strive to find balance in all that you do, and will even go so far as to avoid disagreements so as to not create an unpleasant environment. You have a wide social circle, but unlike those with a Gemini Ascendant, you are not interested in gaining personally from your connections. You are likely physically attractive, as your outer beauty matches your inner beauty.

Scorpio Rising: Charismatic and magnetic, those with a Scorpio Ascendant have an intensity that draws people to them. Whether quiet or loud, these individuals tend to be noticed. Also self-reliant and independent, you are goal-oriented and determined. Your eyes are the window to your soul, and they are bound to be piercing and intense in color.

Sagittarius Rising: The best word to describe those with a Sagittarius Ascendant is adventure. These people are continuously looking forward to the next new thing. Your sense of humor and optimism are contagious, and you go out of your way to help others so that all have equality. You are likely to be a globe-trotter. You have a wide grin and a playfulness about you.

Capricorn Rising: You may have had a difficult childhood, but you are a natural leader and have learned to overcome your personal obstacles, both past and present, through your determination and drive. There is an air of seriousness to these individuals, and those with a Capricorn Ascendant may have a very dry or wry sense of humor. Money—both earning it and worrying about it—is an important topic for those with Capricorn Rising. Your body may be just as dark and sturdy as you are: you may be short or stocky, and likely have dark hair.

Aquarius Rising: Those with an Aquarius Ascendant are unusual and unique, with eclectic interests and hobbies. You are strongly independent, and will refuse to conform to the ideas or plans of others (there is a rebelliousness in you that may show itself at times).  Of all the zodiacal signs, those with an Aquarius rising are the most likely to be involved with metaphysical subjects, including astrology. Unusual facial features and wild hair characterize your appearance.

Pisces Rising: In Astrology for Beginners, Joann Hampar describes the Pisces Rising as “a gentle, thoughtful personality. If you have this mutable water sign on the Ascendant, you are receptive to those around you and sensitive to your environment. Empathetic and intuitive, you can be overwhelmed by too much input.” With an artistic personality, those with a Pisces Rising will go with the flow of things, and can be perceived as having the chameleon-like quality of changing their personality from day to day. You have an oval face, along with small hands and feet.

Reader Comments

Written By Nonni
on March 10th, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

Thank you for the above observations.

A question has been haunting me for years and I have been unable to find an answer, even though I have searched repeatedly.

What is the significance of two persons having the same exact degree Ascendent? They were born in different locations, years and time.

Any answer will be deeply appreciated.

Written By Anna
on March 10th, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

Hi Nonni!

I’ve never pondered that–I would assume it would make the two individuals be markedly similar in appearance and characteristics, moreso than just having each person have their Ascendant in the same sign.

Anyone else have any insight?

Written By Aboli Chavan
on June 24th, 2011 @ 4:58 am


I would like to thank you for providing such a comprehensive insight into this ‘rising sign’ concept. I always wondered how I am not exactly what my sun sign (Sagittarius) mentions. My ascendant is Virgo which matches me perfectly and now I have a clear idea of what I am.

Thank you again.

Written By Aboli Chavan
on June 24th, 2011 @ 6:56 am


I just had this one more thing in my mind.

Should a person relate himself only to his ascendant sign and not to his actual sun sign?

The reason I am asking this is that despite me being a complete (ascendant) Virgo (meticulous, reliable, analytical, intelligent, modest, etc.) I still have the qualities (optimism, honesty, straightforwardness, philosophical) of the sun sign under which I was born – Sagittarius.

SO – the rising sign or sun sign…. or bits of both??

Thank you.

Written By Jonna
on May 28th, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

To Aboli Chavan,
Your personality is based on all three of your zodiac signs. Everyone has a Sun, Moon, and Rising sign which are all parts of a person’s personality. From what I’ve seen and read, the sun sign tends to be a person’s basic character traits and is very general. The moon sign is more of your, well…inner self? It can be more accurate to how you are when you are very emotional or how you are on the inside. The rising sign is -supposedly- how others see you as, or how you are outwardly to others. So you’re bits and pieces of all three! I hope that’s accurate and helps you in any way, even if it is a very late answer.

Written By Ameia
on July 19th, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

All the planets are accounted for in a full horoscope. In ancient Greece, they counted the ascendant as the most important aspect. Ascendant plays a different role in the personality than the sun sign, so interpret it as such.

Written By Gabriela
on December 30th, 2014 @ 12:46 am

Hello confused so when I read my horoscope Do I go by my ascendant or my original horoscope which is Sagittarius and now I find out that ascendant l is Libra?

Written By Sharon
on February 23rd, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

Acq. rising is me ! And I am an astrologer. I started with palmistry when I was 14 and it evolved into the Tarot and then astrology. I def. fit the description of Acq. rising. Thank you for posting. 🙂

Written By john voulgaris
on May 9th, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

I do not know my exact time of birth ,but from your description my Ascendant is Aquarius.
Thank You.

Written By sophie
on August 21st, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

I always asked myself why I did not feel like a Taurus. I checked my ascendant and found out I’m a Leo – but that fits even less. And my Chinese Zodiac is a Tiger. Taurus, Leo, Tiger, they all stand for strong will and determination. That’s the absolute opposite of myself. I’m confused and a bit disappointed.

Written By Chia maria
on November 4th, 2015 @ 6:38 am

Funny that. I, too, am a leo sun sign with a virgo rising and I have never had the desire to be the centre of attention either. When at a party where I don’t know most people, I’m “that” person who stands to one side of the room and quietly observes. And with my moon in gemini, I’m like a double high-strung mercury person that sometimes overshadows my lionisity. Leos are known for being extravagant with money, but I’m financially very disciplined (thanks to virgo). I’ve never had the desire to dominate or take the lead anywhere, and I’m quite meticulous about my work and prefer to be behind the scenes.

Written By Grace
on January 2nd, 2016 @ 6:40 am

my rising sign is in Virgo and and moon is in Cancer but my zodiac sign is Libra. How much of each sign does one have?

Written By Destiny Vaughan
on June 23rd, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

Having Mars in my 1st House sort of cancels out the Libra qualities. My 1st House is a little stretched; it fits Libra and Scorpio, and Mars is in Scorpio, which makes me more “intimidating” than attractive, I think. Or maybe it’s a combination.

Written By International Transzodiac Movement
on June 28th, 2016 @ 7:39 am

If you feel like you were born under a sign that has nothing to do with your personality whatsoever, join the Transzodiac community and help modernizing Astrology and bringing it into the 21st century.

Written By Katie Pichel
on July 21st, 2016 @ 9:11 am

Hi! What does it mean if my sun, moon and ascendant signs are ALL Sagittarius? Is that uncommon? Thanks!

Written By Bobby G
on August 12th, 2016 @ 10:03 am

I was born approximately 2AM, on August 21, 1950. I’m a Leo who was also born in the year of the Tiger. I do not understand the terms Leo rising or ascending. Can you shed some light on my birth time and these terms?

Written By Matt
on August 26th, 2016 @ 4:32 am

Hey, this is a great article!
This is mentioned so often in horoscopes and I always wondered what that means.
To the people asking what ascendant they are in the comments:
I found a neat calculator where u can put in your data and it tells you what you are: http://www.astrosofa.com/horoscope/ascendant
Thanks again for this great article 🙂

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