Decoding Your Rising Sign

Decoding Your Rising Sign

Your Rising Sign, aka your Ascendant, is the sign on the eastern horizon line at the moment of your birth. It affects everything else in your chart and completes the Big 3 placements (Sun, Moon, and Rising) that have the most influence on who you are.

How is the Rising Sign determined?

Looking up at the sky from our perspective here on Earth, we see the constellations as a giant map that rotates around the Earth once every 24 hours. The Sun, Moon and planets all move along the same path across the sky called the ecliptic. The ecliptic crosses twelve constellations in its elliptical path around the Earth, and these twelve constellations are known as the zodiac. The Sun, Moon, planets, and asteroids all move at a different speed than the constellation map does, which is how they can move from one zodiac constellation into another. (This is legitimate astronomy. You’re a scientist now!) 

From wherever you are on the Earth, you can draw an imaginary horizon line straight out into space. The easternmost point of this horizon line is where all celestial bodies – the constellations, the Sun, the Moon, the planets – rise into the sky above you. So at the moment of your birth, there was a zodiac constellation rising above your horizon line in the East. This is your Rising sign. 

Because the entire twelve signs of the zodiac cross your horizon line every 24 hours, the time of your birth is most important for determining your Rising sign. Every two hours, the rising sign changes. The exact degree of the rising sign is changing at a rate of 0.25° per minute (15°/hour). 

Now, this does not mean that every morning at 6am the sign of Aries is rising in the East. Which sign is rising when depends on what time of year it is. For example, if it is Gemini season, that means the Sun is in Gemini. So as the Sun rises in the morning, the constellation of Gemini rises too (even if you can’t see it behind the Sun). So if you were born in Gemini season around the time of sunrise, your rising sign might also be in Gemini. 

The Rising Sign Affects Your Whole Chart

Your Rising Sign is the cusp of your first house and the beginning of your birth chart (unless you are working in the Whole Sign system or one similar). Your Rising Sign determines the size of your houses, the signs that rule each house, and what house each of your planetary placements are in. It can completely shift how different placements show up for you in your life, as well as how you show up in the world.

Because of its immense influence, the Rising Sign creates a sort of filter over your entire birth chart. Every aspect of your chart, your nature, and your life is colored by the characteristics of your Rising Sign.

What does it mean in the birth chart?

The Rising Sign influences your identity, personality, and self-image. It can determine your aura or vibe and your first impression on others, almost like your personal brand. And while your Sun Sign is your most true, authentic self that you grow into over your lifetime, your Rising Sign is almost your default, go-to self that you most identified with in childhood and shapes your outward persona. It is how others perceive you, whether or not they know you well. Some astrologers believe it can even influence your physical appearance.

You may have most identified with your Rising Sign as a child. As we are shaping our view of the world and the world is getting to discover us, our Rising Sign characteristics are often how we are perceived by others and how we approach the world. It can feel like a very safe, comfortable aspect of your identity, and it can hold the primary skills you use in life to get where you are going. Ask someone who knew you as a child to describe you then – it just may line up closely with your Rising Sign description!

Your Rising Sign is sometimes called the “mask” you use to hide your true self. This isn’t quite true – your Rising Sign is just as much a part of you as all your other placements. It can be a huge source of power and innate gifts. It is how you relate outwardly to others and make connections. Your Rising Sign can often contain the most fundamental, first layer elements of your personality. While you often need a safe space to express your authentic self (those Sun or Moon sign qualities), your Rising Sign is often what you lean on most when you are uncomfortable or even when you lack confidence. It’s also the first thing people notice about you, so can sometimes be deemed a “mask”. 

Your Rising Sign is the source of a lot of talents, skills, and characteristics that come naturally and easily to you. Often we don’t even notice these skills for what they are because they are so innate to us. Other people may see them however, especially if they themselves don’t have those innate skills or talents. People may seek you out particularly for your Rising Sign skills and talents. 

Lastly, the sign opposite your Rising (aka your Descendant) can indicate what kinds of energy you may be drawn to in others, especially romantic or business partnerships. There’s a reason why they say opposites attract!

Ways to Work with Your Rising Sign

  • When reading your horoscope, read for your rising sign first! Astrologers often make predictions for each sign based on the Rising because it determines the houses of your chart. So if you are a Pisces Rising, you likely have Gemini in your 4th House. So for example, your Sun in Gemini horoscope will likely have to do with the Sun’s influence on 4th House areas of your life, such as home and family. 
  • If you’re struggling with confidence, feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, or feeling lost, turn to your Rising Sign for support. It can help you feel reconnected with your most instinctual self.
  • If you’re feeling stuck or stagnant, you may be leaning too hard on your Rising Sign (especially if you have a lot of planets in the 1st House). You can help refresh, motivate, and balance yourself by connecting with the energy of your Descendant. This can look like spending time with others who emulate your Descendant’s energy, or practicing actions aligned with your Descendant’s energy yourself. 
  • Your rising sign determines your chart planetary ruler! Each zodiac sign is ruled by a planet, so as your chart is ruled by your Rising Sign, its planetary ruler becomes the ruler of your chart too. As your Rising Sign affects everything in your chart, so does your chart planetary ruler. The house of your planetary ruler may show you where in your life your Rising Sign qualities show up the most. You may feel the effects of transits or aspects with your planetary ruler more than other planets. Work with your planetary ruler by making friends with it, studying and embracing its energy and lessons, learning how it shows up in your chart, and paying attention to it in the sky. 

Your Rising Sign


Element: Fire

Modality: Cardinal

Ruling Planet: Mars

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Aries are confident, straightforward, and courageous. They are strong and enthusiastic, and very connected to their energetic bodies. They are decisive, natural leaders who have an easy time asserting themselves, stating their opinions, and asking for what they want. 

Where You Excel: Aries Risings are great at working independently and initiating new tasks. They love a challenge and are motivated by competition. They always lead with their fire and can approach obstacles without fear. 

Childhood: Aries Risings are often rambunctious and enthusiastic children, sometimes to excess. They can become self-reliant early in life and love their independence. They have a strong capacity for self-expression and courage. 

Finding Balance: Aries Risings can look to Libra to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Libra qualities like careful consideration of others. They grow the most from connecting with others and building harmonious relationships. Aries Risings can attract Libra-like partners or partners who encourage Libra qualities in them.


Element: Earth

Modality: Fixed

Ruling Planet: Venus

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Taurus are dependable, generous, and easygoing. They are often attractive, likable, sensual, and magnetic. They are generally peaceful and move through life with slow intentionality and a healthy sense of self-worth. They can be stubborn and may be uncomfortable with change.

Where You Excel: Taurus Risings are able to make steady, reliable progress with their consistent flow of motivation and slow determination. They work best in steady, dependable environments. Building comfort and security wherever they go is second nature to them. They think and work with all their senses and are driven to create something physical and long lasting.

Childhood: Taurus Risings are often calm and slow-moving children. They can be serene and peaceful, but may struggle with transitions and tasks where they need to be adaptable. They may especially treasure their personal belongings and rely on them for comfort. 

Finding Balance: Taurus Risings can look to Scorpio to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Scorpio-like qualities like transformation, depth, and growth. They gain the most by connecting with the naturally unstable emotional self. Taurus Risings can attract Scorpio-like partners or partners who encourage Scorpio qualities in them.


Element: Air

Modality: Mutable

Ruling Planet: Mercury

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Gemini are social, witty, and intelligent. They lead with their curiosity and thrive in connection with others. They love to chat and share ideas and are known to have the gift of gab! They have an insatiable curiosity and love meeting and learning about new people.

Where You Excel: Gemini Risings are excellent fact collectors, facilitators, and connection-builders. Their curiosity gives them endless drive toward the things that interest them. They are great “finders” – of people, of things, of answers, of ideas! They are able to listen carefully to others and hold huge maps of idea connections in their mind. 

Childhood: Gemini Risings are often talkative, intelligent, social butterflies as children. They are the ones who cannot keep from whispering to the person next to them in class! They have abundant energy and a racing mind, making them wiggly kids and voracious learners. They often hold onto their youthfulness and seem younger than their peers. They can also be very expressive when they talk, often using their hands to illustrate their ideas.

Finding Balance: Gemini Risings can look to Sagittarius to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Sagittarian qualities like a philosophical perspective and a sense of the bigger picture. They learn the most from seeking wisdom rather than just ideas, engaging with new cultures and thought systems, and connecting their busy brains to their bodies and hearts. Sagittarius energy can also help Gemini recenter on their sense of self by getting out of their heads and gaining lived experiences. Gemini Risings can attract Sagittarian-like partners or partners who encourage Sagittarian-like qualities in them.


Element: Water

Modality: Cardinal

Ruling Planet: The Moon

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Cancer are sensitive, emotional, and nurturing. They have a maternal energy that makes them very familiar and soothing to others. They are highly intuitive and mystical, often psychic or empathic. They need a safe and secure home life and can be very adaptable when they feel safe. Because they are so sensitive they can sometimes develop a hard outer shell to protect themselves, which can make them come off as a little sharp or moody.

Where You Excel: Cancer Risings are excellent caretakers and healers. They lead with their feelings, which can help others connect with their own and feel safe in expressing them. They help others remember what really matters to them and what they need to feel safe and nurtured. Cancer Risings can create home and family wherever they go, and can offer the support and love to others that family is meant to give. They remind others that they are deserving of intimate community and unconditional love. 

Childhood: Cancer Risings are often quiet, intuitive children who are seen as sensitive and soft. They are incredibly caring, kind, and inclusive, and create close friendships. They are imaginative and playful and can sometimes take on a parent or child role in their friendships. They are perceptive of the needs of others and can shape themselves to fit the needs and wants of their friends and family. They can be very attached to their caregivers, especially a mother figure, and can struggle with autonomy. 

Finding Balance: Cancer Risings can look to Capricorn to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Capricorn qualities such as inner strength and strong boundaries. They benefit from remembering that they are not responsible for anyone but themself, and that real love and care allows space for individuality and freedom for all parties. Capricorn energy can help them access their innate power of protection and healing for themself and others. Cancer Risings can attract Capricorn-like partners or partners who encourage Capricorn-like qualities in them.


Element: Fire

Modality: Fixed

Ruling Planet: The Sun

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Leo are playful, dramatic, and warm. They carry themselves like every path is a runway! They are affectionate, caring, and heart-centered leaders who want to share their light and uplift others. They want and need admiration, attention, and respect from others along the way! They are passionate and spontaneous and need regular, visible outlets for their creative inspiration and self-expression.

Where You Excel: Leo Risings are the personality-hires of the zodiac. They light up the space around them with their passion, drama, and energy. They help others come out of their shells and step into the spotlight by accessing their own creative self-expression and interests. They chase what makes them feel alive and bring joy into everything they do. They entertain others and remind us of what makes life worth living!

Childhood: Leo Risings are often popular children and leaders of their peers and friend groups. They can be courageous and brave, especially if it will bring admiration and compliments. They need creative outlets to express themselves and be seen by others. They can sometimes depend heavily on others for their self-worth and struggle with self-reliance. They can also fear standing out for the wrong reasons, and therefore try to keep up with trends and comply with the status quo.

Finding Balance: Leo Risings can look to Aquarius to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Aquarian qualities such as individuality and rebelliousness. They benefit the most from learning to appreciate what makes them unique or weird, and knowing that their people will love and admire them all the more for standing out against the norm. Aquarius energy can help them release their fears of rejection, embrace their authenticity, and also refocus on humanitarian motivations and a greater sense of purpose in the world. Leo Risings can attract Aquarius-like partners or partners who encourage Aquarius-like qualities in them. 


Element: Earth

Modality: Mutable

Ruling Planet: Mercury

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Virgo are polite, intelligent, and humble. They are deeply caring and genuinely helpful. They can be deeply devotional to practices and people, which sometimes leads to self-sacrificing behaviors. They are analytical and perceptive which makes them very discerning of other people and able to recognize disingenuousness. Their attention to detail can make them very critical of themselves and others. Cleanliness, order, and purpose in their environment are also very important to Virgo Risings.

Where You Excel: Virgo Risings are excellent analysts, communicators, and guides. They have a knack for distilling and sharing information in an approachable and accessible way. They thrive when they can be of service to others, when they can put their resources to practical use, and when they feel their work is meaningful and important.

Childhood: Virgo Risings are often sweet, unassuming, well-behaved children. They can be obedient and make good listeners and great students. Their perceptive and analytical mind can make them prone to worrying, and an orderly and calm environment is important for them. They can feel very distressed when they make mistakes, and can struggle with self-acceptance. They are drawn to dreams and fantasy and connecting to their imagination, nature, and small animals can be very nourishing for them.

Finding Balance: Virgo Risings can look to Pisces to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Piscean qualities such as limitless compassion for themselves and others. They benefit most from learning how to access unconditional love in their relationships and services, which can expand their capabilities and their ability to be kinder to themselves. Pisces energy can help them access more fluidity and nuance as well as a greater perspective beyond this earthly realm. This allows them to relax their perfectionism and release self-criticism and judgment. Virgo Risings can attract Pisces-like partners or partners who encourage Pisces-like qualities in them.


Element: Air

Modality: Cardinal

Ruling Planet: Venus

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Libra are often attractive, charming, and graceful. They are diplomatic and value justice, approaching life and all its conflicts with objectivity and fair-mindedness. They can always see both sides of a problem and hold multiple truths at once. Because of their positive, understanding outlook, they can sometimes lack discernment and idealize others. They really value their relationships and place a lot of weight on finding the perfect romantic or life partner.

Where You Excel: Libra Risings are great mediators, counselors, and peacemakers. They seek and build harmony in everything they touch. They have a keen eye for beauty and often are artistically talented. They thrive in working with others, incorporating social engagement into their work, and building strong connections between people.

Childhood: Libra Risings are often kind, cooperative, and peaceful children. Their genuine interest in others and their ability to center the experiences of others makes them great friends and confidants, and often quite popular and well-liked. They are aware of their charm and influence and know how to use it to gently and quietly get what they want. They require peaceful environments as conflict can be very distressing for them. They often fear displeasing others and can shape their own personalities around what others want from them.

Finding Balance: Libra Risings can look to Aries to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Aries-like qualities such as independence and authenticity. They benefit from learning to identify and trust their own beliefs and opinions and learning how to take action even when every possibility seems like the best option. Aries energy can help them access their confidence, courage, and decisiveness, which in turn helps them access more of their natural creativity and inquisitiveness. Libra Risings can attract Aries-like partners or partners who encourage Aries-like qualities in them. 


Element: Water

Modality: Fixed

Ruling Planet: Pluto

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Scorpio are intimidating, magnetic, and charismatic. They are highly intuitive and can often seem secretive. They have a lot of determination and resilience, and can be very persuasive and influential on the people around them. Their presence alone can transform the space around them. 

Where You Excel: Scorpio Risings lead with their intensity and emotional fearlessness. They thrive in competition and under difficult circumstances. They have incredible willpower and their motivation lies in their desire for truth and deep understanding. As leaders they can motivate others with their own drive and help alchemize challenges or limitations into assets. 

Childhood: Scorpio Risings are often reserved, intuitive, and perceptive children. They feel very deeply and have an intense, expansive emotional world, but do not express themselves very often or very well. Because of their emotional depth, they often fear being misunderstood in a world that avoids talking about the really hard things. They can be very strong willed and stubborn children who are willing to fight for what they want, and are likely to win. They can also become obsessive over people or things that they love and feel connected to. 

Finding Balance: Scorpio Risings can look to Taurus to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Taurean qualities such as steadiness and surrender. They may need reminders to take care of themselves and to prioritize their inner security, worthiness, and dependability. They can benefit the most from learning to trust and release control. Scorpio Risings can attract Taurus-like partners or partners who encourage Taurus-like qualities in them. 


Element: Fire

Modality: Mutable

Ruling Planet: Jupiter

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Sagittarius are outgoing, free-spirited, and adventurous. They are cheerful and uplifting, and walk through life with a sense of humor and optimism. They see every experience as a potential learning opportunity. They can be direct and blunt, sometimes tactless. They love nature and spirituality.

Where You Excel: Sagittarius Risings are great explorers and scholars. They seek wisdom from all walks of life and share what they have learned wherever they go. They can bring different cultures and worldviews together in community. They thrive in new environments where they have a lot of freedom and few limitations. They are also very lucky!

Childhood: Sagittarius Risings are often joyful, curious, and playful children. They approach life with positivity and optimism, and bounce back quickly from tough experiences. They can be very honest and blunt children, and they also love to make others laugh. They are imaginative children who need lots of physical activity and time in nature. They are often drawn to symbolism, magic, art, and allegorical stories as well.

Finding Balance: Sagittarius Risings can look to Gemini to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Gemini qualities such as discernment and practicality. They learn the most from taking time to plan their adventures and keeping a healthy level of suspicion and caution to avoid becoming dogmatic. Sagittarius Risings can attract Gemini-like partners or partners who encourage Gemini-like qualities in them. 


Element: Earth

Modality: Cardinal

Ruling Planet: Saturn

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Capricorn are sophisticated, reserved, and patient. They are often elegant, refined, and highly capable. Due to their CEO-energy they can sometimes come off as snobby or aloof. They have a lot of determination, focus, and drive but can struggle with insecurity, making them timid or cautious. They are trustworthy, self-sufficient, and lead with integrity.

Where You Excel: Capricorn Risings are determined, committed, and resourceful, making them capable of accomplishing absolutely anything they set their mind to! They are thorough and value quality over quantity. They are unphased by external obstacles, and if they can work around their internal perfectionism, they are literally unstoppable! They also have great timing and a great sense of humor.

Childhood: Capricorn Risings are often shy, timid, and pensive children. They have a naturally deep sense of responsibility, an eye for detail and order, and an intense awareness of the world around them. Because of this, they sometimes need to be encouraged to play and be a kid. They are often called “wise beyond their years” or “very mature for their age”. They have a strong connection to their parents, especially their father. They often become “younger” as they age, losing their seriousness and leaning into their desire for expression and play as adults. 

Finding Balance: Capricorn Risings can look to Cancer to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Cancerian qualities such as maternal nurturing and a connection to their emotions. They learn the most from practicing unconditional love and self-forgiveness, healing their inner child who has experienced so much repression and turning that love and healing outward to others. They benefit from learning that it is okay to be imperfect, emotional, and even sloppy. Capricorn Risings can attract Cancer-like partners or partners who encourage Cancer-like qualities in them.


Element: Air

Modality: Fixed

Ruling Planet: Uranus

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Aquarius are creative, eccentric, and free-spirited. They are very independent and nonconformist, and often have a unique sense of style or a quirky or unusual demeanor. They value their authentic expression and need communities who allow them to exist without judgment. They can sometimes come off as cold or aloof, but usually because they have such a birds-eye view of humanity and grand visions for progress and revolution. 

Where You Excel: Aquarius Risings are game-changers! They cherish independent thought and value deep intellect and clear visions. They are great at analysis and crafting big, visionary ideas. They are also socially conscious and are often leaders in community progress and activism.

Childhood: Aquarius Risings are often very authentic children who don’t follow the status-quo for their peers. They are friendly and have powerful imaginations, often preferring getting lost in their imagination over emotional connection with others. While they generally don’t seek social acceptance, they can sometimes feel alienated from their peers because of their uniqueness. They will find their people and expand their social circles as they grow up. 

Finding Balance: Aquarius Risings can look to Leo to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Leo qualities like being connected to their emotions and heart. They grow the most when they realize that they do need an audience and connection with others in order to find purpose for all their unique talents and skills. They can use reminders from others to connect to their big hearts and express their emotions openly. Aquarius Risings can attract Leo-like partners or partners who encourage Leo-like qualities in them. 


Element: Water

Modality: Mutable

Ruling Planet: Neptune

Your First Impression: People with their Rising Sign in Pisces are sensitive, easygoing, and compassionate. They can often carry a dreamy, mystical, or ethereal vibe, reflecting their spiritual nature. They are imaginative and creative and can be wonderful artists. They can have a deeply loving, soothing presence on others. As the last sign of the zodiac, they can sometimes take on the personalities of those around them, subconsciously trying to accommodate and prioritize others out of compassion and empathy.

Where You Excel: Pisces Risings have a strong and direct connection with the Universe and non-physical realms. Their deep sensitivity and awareness of the energies around them make them excellent artists, musicians, and poets. They are highly intuitive, empathic, and can make powerful healers. They work best in environments where they have freedom to daydream, feel deeply, and create fully.

Childhood: Pisces Risings are often sensitive and highly perceptive children. They can absorb the energies of other people around them, and so often need help learning early on how to protect themselves from others’ emotions. They are empathic and intuitive children with vivid imaginations and lively dream experiences. They can be easily overwhelmed and need a lot of quiet alone time to process and daydream.

Finding Balance: Pisces Risings can look to Virgo to find balance. They can learn from incorporating more Virgo qualities like realism and groundedness. They benefit greatly from learning how to develop boundaries and anchor themselves in the practical, rational, and physical world. Pisces Risings can attract Virgo-like partners or partners who encourage Virgo-like qualities in them.