What is my "Ascendant"?
What is my "Ascendant", also known as rising or ascending sign, and why is it important?
The Ascendant is the degree of the zodiac the eastern horizon was on at the moment of your birth. If you had looked due east when you were born you could have seen (at night) one of the 12 zodiac constellations "rising" over the horizon. To calculate the ascendant you must know the exact time and place of birth.
The ascendant is important for many reasons:
1) It tells you what your “rising sign” is - which is almost as important as knowing your sun or moon sign
2) It describes the physical body and characteristics
3) Any planet conjuncting the ascendant, or “rising planet”, will have a powerful influence on the personality and life
4) It describes how we relate to others
In general our ascending sign with have a major effect on our personality. It is how we express ourselves to the world around us and how we process the information we take in. A rose tinted lens will make us see the world as wonderful, exiting and safe. A dark lens will make us see a world that is scary, dangerous and cold. It tends to be the first thing we notice about someone before we come to get to know the Sun and Moon sign characteristics of that person.
Because the ascending sign rules the first house, the house of the self, it will describe our physical body. Scorpio ascending people tend to have strong, tough bodies as well as those with Taurus rising. A Pisces ascendant person might have a less robust physical constitution overall especially if other planetary aspects reinforce this trait.
A “rising planet” with have a profound impact on the personality the closer it gets to the ascendant. If a planet is within a few degrees or less it usually puts an unmistakable stamp on the person's motives, actions and physical appearance. Also any planets in a tight aspect to the ascendant will effect the personality dramatically. As always, you have to look at everything that effects this sensitive point of the birth chart; the sign, the ruling planet of that sign, any rising planets, and any planets strongly aspecting it.
Finally, the ascendant describes how we relate and get along with others.