The ascendant ( sign and degree that was ascending on the eastern horizon at the specific time and location of an event. According to astrological theory, celestial phenomena reflect or determine human activity on the principle of 'as above so below'. Thus astrologers believe that the ascendant signifies a person's awakening consciousness, in the same way that the Sun's appearance on the eastern horizon signifies the dawn of a new day. [ Jeff Mayo, "Teach Yourself Astrology", p71, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1991 ] Because the ascendant is specific to a particular time and place, it signifies the individual environment and conditioning that a person receives during their upbringing, and also the circumstances of their childhood. [ Sasha Fenton, "Rising Signs", pp 13-14, The Aquarian Press, London, 1989 ] For this reason, the ascendant is also concerned with how a person has learned to present him or herself to the world, especially in public and in impersonal situations. In some circumstances, it can therefore function as a shield or mask to guard a person's real nature - in other words the 'defense mechanism' every person has to cope with unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. The ascendant also has a strong bearing on a person's physical appearance and overall health.

The Ascendant is thus considered to be of great significance in all schools of astrology because it in effect serves as the filter through which everything in a horoscope- including the Sun and Moon- is expressed. Most astrologers believe that the Rising Sign exerts an influence equal to or more powerful than the Sun and Moon. In Jyotish, the ascendant is without question the most individual and defining element in the chart.

Relation to the first house

Astronomically, the ascendant of a given geographic location at a particular point in time is the angle on the zodiac which is ascending over the Eastern horizon.{It is also defined as the point of intersection of the ecliptic (the Sun's path) with the eastern horizon of the location}. There are exactly 30 degrees per astrological sign, and because 12 multiplied by 30° equals 360° which is the span of the ecliptic, all twelve signs rise and fall during the course of one 24-hour day. This exact rising degree forms the first house cusp {midpoint - BHAVA MADHYA of the first house (or) LAGNA in Vedic Astrology} of a horoscope and is therefore said to be of great significance in the interpretation.

Since the ascendant usually forms the cusp of the first house in a modern horoscope many astrologers believe that it naturally corresponds to Aries, the first astrological sign of the zodiac, but these assumptions were not always made. Ancient astrologers used whole-sign house systems almost exclusively, which meant that each house of the chart began at 0 degrees of each sign. The first house was the one in which the point of the ascendant fell, but the ascendant itself did not form the boundary of the house.

Secondly, the concept of each house having a correspondence to a zodiacal sign, which is sometimes called "natural houses" or the "natural zodiac", is a modern one. In the original formulations of astrology, Mars, which rules Aries, the first sign, actually was most at home and most powerful in the sixth house, not the first. Some astrologers, nowadays, think that the ascendant could correspond to other signs in spite of Aries, like Leo (the sign of appearance, pride, egocentricity and self-importance, all characteristics that could likely be suitable for the first house) or Libra (because Libra rising seems to give the most good-looking appearance, very likable humane characteristics and diplomatic abilities, so astrologers think that is the best position for an ascendant).


ASCendant = arctan ({-{cos A}/({sin A imes cos E + an L imes sin E))

where A = local sidereal time in degrees = RAMC, the Right Ascension of the MC, the Mid Heaven

E = obliquity of the ecliptic ≈ 23°27'

L = local latitude (Southern latitudes are negative, Northern positive)

Long and short ascension

Because the Earth's axis (see axial tilt) is tilted relative to the ecliptic, the twelve signs do not take the same amount of time to cross the eastern horizon. At the equator, there is very little difference (Pisces, Aries, Virgo and Libra take slightly less time than the other signs) but as one moves from the equator, larger and larger differences emerge.

In the northern hemisphere, the signs of Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini take much less time than the theoretical two hours to cross the eastern horizon, whilst the signs of Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius take much longer than two hours to do so. For example, at the latitude of Paris, France:
* Pisces, Aries and Gemini take only about fifty-five minutes to cross the eastern horizon (this is referred to as the "length of ascension" or simply as the sign's "ascension")
* Aquarius and Taurus have an ascension of only about seventy minutes
* Cancer and Sagittarius have an ascension of around two and a half hours
* Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio have ascensions of around two hours and forty-five minutes

At higher latitudes, these differences become even more marked. At the latitude of St. Petersburg, Russia:
* Pisces and Aries ascend in only "thirty minutes"
* Aquarius and Taurus ascend in only "forty-five minutes"
* Capricorn and Gemini ascend in an hour and a half
** actually individual degrees near Sagittarius or Cancer ascend twice as slowly as those near Aquarius or Taurus
* Sagittarius and Cancer ascend in two hours and forty minutes
* Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio take as much as three hours and fifteen minutes to ascend

Astrologers consider the differences between the rate at which the signs ascend to be of importance. In many house systems, houses can become very large when they cover Aquarius, Pisces, Aries and Taurus because these signs are seen to be much smaller from the perspective of a northern hemisphere observer.

Some astrologers, such as Richard Nolle, consider the prepondence of Ascendants in signs from Cancer through Sagittarius (known as the "western signs") to be symbolic of the highly relationship-oriented character inherent in a complex or civilized society as found today in the northern hemisphere but never developed in equatorial or south temperate latitudes where "eastern" (Capricorn through Gemini), individual-oriented Ascendants are equally or more common (Richard Nolle, Chiron: New Planet in the Horoscope, pages 78 to 82).

In the southern hemisphere, long and short ascension are reversed. For instance, at the latitude of Concepción, Chile:
* Pisces and Aries ascend in two hours twenty minutes
* Aquarius and Taurus ascend in two and a half hours (see note about ascension in low latitudes above)
* Capricorn and Gemini ascend in two hours twenty minutes
* Sagittarius and Cancer ascend in almost exactly two hours
* Scorpio and Leo ascend in about ninety minutes
* Libra and Virgo ascend in about seventy-five minutes

Ascendant in Polar Regions

As we move closer to the polar regions the time lengths of long and short ascensions become more extreme.

At the Arctic circle at 66.56° north, at local sidereal time 18h 00m 00s, when 0° Capricorn is on the midheaven the ecliptic become flush with the horizon with the ascendant effectively subsumed into the horizon circle in it entirety. That is, the intersection of the ecliptic with the horizon that defines the ascendant ceases to exist, eliminating all houses at that instant. There are no signs that are rising or setting. There is no ascendant or descendant. The spherical geometry that generates them fails and "zeros" them out of existence.

In the instant after this, as diurnal motion continues, the ecliptic “lifts” from the horizon and the ascendant resumes its identity providing space for the resumption of the intermediate houses.

As we move beyond the Arctic Circle most house systems break down and are inoperable for parts of the day. Ever-increasing sections of the ecliptic remain permanently below and above the horizon and can not be ascendants. For example, at 75° latitude Sagittarius, Capricorn and parts of Scorpio and Aquarius are permanently below the horizon while Gemini, Cancer and parts of Taurus and Leo and are permanently above the horizon. These can never be ascendants.

Furthermore the ascendant exhibits other strange behaviour. At latitude 75 at sidereal time 21h 20m 00s the midheaven and ascendant merge and become conjunct confounding their separate definitions! In this instance all intermediate houses are zeroed out except for house 12 and 6. In the instant after this the ascendant crosses over the meridian to the west and instantaneously becomes the descendant, but with its degrees rising instead of setting , while the descendant crosses the meridian to the east and becomes an ascendant with its degree setting rather than rising. That is the ascendant is goes retrograde! This continues until the ascendant once again crosses the meridian where upon they flip back resuming their conventional identities – until local sidereal time 2h 25m 00s when the situation flips again with all houses but 1 and 7 “zeroed” out.

As we reach the north pole itself more of the ecliptic is unavailable for rising and setting until at the precise position of the north geographic pole half of the zodiac - Aries to Virgo - is permanently above the horizon while the other half - Libra to Pisces are permanently below the horizon. That is, the first degrees of Aries and Libra permanently ride around on the horizon due to diurnal motion - never rising nor setting. At the north pole there can be no midheaven. Every direction away from you is south, so every direction is a midheaven rending the midheaven meaningless by definition.

Polar astrology raises questions about the validity or nature of houses in general and personality delineations are limited by which sign can rise and rulerships become almost impossible to apply.

Effects of Polar Astrology

There are more than 4 million people living in the Arctic region of which 12% are of indigenous birth (have charts). [] So the problem for astrology is not trivial. Many of them will have houses missing or no houses in the their charts. Yet they must live lives that accommodate the matters ascribed to astrological houses such as "finances", "relationships", "health" etc that can be missing in their horoscopes. Ascendants of births in this region can be characterized by the proportion of ascendants that only can rise. This furthermore restricts personalty delineations.

Murmansk at 68.97° north is in this astrological problem zone. With a population of 300,000 and annual birth rate of 9.8/1000 [] there is a substantial a portion of the population that falls into the zone of missing houses and rising signs.

On the other hand one could dispense with houses or even signs all together. As with the method of Cosmobiology, signs and houses are either ignored or relegated as incidental. Along with planets, their mutual aspects and aspects to the ascendant and midheaven, as well as their midpoints there are still plenty of factors that incorporates a unique moment of birth for a comprehensive delineation while avoiding the polar “crash” of classical house systems and signs.

It's obvious that the familiar house systems of classical astrology were invented in the non-problem mid latitudes in an era when population centres were more parochial. The house-system inventors were mathematically competent astrologers and they must have been aware of the polar problem but likely considered it irrelevant as they may have never had to cast a polar chart.

Effects of the Ascendant

There are a couple of factors that influence how strong or weak a force in the chart the ascendant may be. [ Sasha Fenton, "Ibid", pp17 - 18, 1989 ] Firstly, it is generally believed that the closer towards the beginning of the sign the ascendant falls, the stronger it will be. This is because most of the first house will fall into that sign. If the ascendant falls late in a sign, most of the first house will fall into the following sign, and thus weaken the effect of the ascendant's power. In addition the ascendant is thought to be stronger in influence when the sun is in a weak position in the chart. For example, it is traditionally believed that the sun is in a weaker position when it is placed at the bottom of the chart, near the "immum coeli" or IC. This is because the sun was literally on the other side of the earth when the subject was born, hidden from view. The sun may also be weaker in influence if it is unaspected, in other words if it forms no strong aspects or connections to the other planets.

Another factor concerning the effect of the ascendant is the theory that people become more like their sun sign after around 30 years old, as they grow older and more confident and thus have less of a need to present a public face to others. It is also theorised that when the progressed ascendant moves into the following sign, it weakens the influence of the natal ascendant.

Planets and the ascendant

Planets can assume added importance in the birth chart due to their relationship to the ascendant. [ Sasha Fenton, "Ibid", p 15, pp202-3, 1989 ] The planet that rules the astrological sign of the ascendant is called the chart ruler, and is said to be of particular importance. So for example, if the ascendant sign is Libra, Venus will be the chart ruler, and so 'set the tone' for the chart in many ways. In addition, the planet nearest the ascendant in the first house is usually called the rising planet and has a particular importance in the chart. However, if a planet in the twelfth house is very close (within one or two degrees) to the ascendant, then it can be taken to be the rising planet instead. If a planet is actually in conjunction with the ascendant it then becomes vitally important in its effect on the personality, to the extent of being almost as important as the sun in some cases. Finally, any planets in the first house will always have an added emphasis to them.

Ascendants in the zodiac signs

The effect of the ascendant varies according to the zodiac sign in which it is placed. [ Sasha Fenton, "Ibid", pp 31 - 34 ]

Ascendant fire signs

The fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are noted for their energy, enthusiasm and optimism. When a fire sign is on the ascendant the outer manner is friendly, uncritical and non-hostile, which makes such people good mixers and public relations executives. They typically send out friendly, but professionally competent signals which draw out a friendly and rather respectful response from others. Aries rising gives out a well-organized, slightly military bearing which makes them fit for any kind of military or civil service organization. Leo rising subjects have a dignified and rather formal manner which inspires confidence; while Sagittarius risers have a cheerful, pleasant and rather witty outer manner which suits all kinds of teaching, training and public speaking situations.

Ascendant earth signs

The earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are noted for their practicality and security. When an earth sign is on the ascendant the outer manner is shy, serious and cautious. Taurus risers are the most sociable of the three and are often musical or artistic. Virgo risers look for mental stimulation in others, while Capricorn risers enjoy both work and social pursuits. People with these ascendants send out signals which are pleasant and tactful suggesting that they prefer to form part of a team - at least to begin with - than to push themselves immediately to the front.

Ascendant air signs

The air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are noted for their communication skills. When an air sign is on the ascendant the subject is friendly and sociable, but also independent and somewhat detached. The Gemini riser is constantly busy, fully engaged in a kind of juggling act, with at least a dozen activities on the go at any one time. The Libra riser occupies him or herself with business schemes which often need the aid of a more earthy partner to make them come into fruition. The Aquarius riser makes wonderful plans for himself and others and may even carry some of them out. Those with ascendant air signs can sometimes appear arrogant and offensive if threatened or caught off guard, but will rush to the aid of anyone who is genuinely in need. They send out rather superior, macho or businesslike signals which command the respect of others.

Ascendant water signs

The water signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are noted for their emotion, intuition and feeling. When a water sign is on the ascendant the subject will hide their true feelings and have a strong need to protect themselves from the world around them. What you see is often not what you get with water ascendants. In other words, the signals they send out are consciously or unconsciously chosen for effect. Cancerians appear chatty and helpful and they do well in any situation that requires tact. Scorpio risers can use many different forms of camouflage with people they do not know, one of their favourites being offensiveness and an off-putting manner. Pisces risers appear soft, gentle, self-sacrificing and sometimes even helpless, but this is misleading, as they will fight strongly for what they think is right.


See also

*Angle (astrology)
**Accidental ascendant
**Equatorial ascendant
**Imum Coeli
**House (astrology)

External links

* [ You can calculate free your Ascendant (rising sign)] and Your horoscope chart.
* [ Calculate a Rising Sign or Ascendant] A Simple way to determine your rising sign.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • ascendant — ascendant, ante 1. (a ssan dan, dan t ) adj. 1°   Qui va en montant. Mouvement ascendant. Force ascendante. 2°   Terme d astronomie. Qui monte, qui s élève, par rapport à l horizon. Degrés ascendants. Latitude ascendante.    Noeud ascendant,… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • ascendant — ASCENDANT, ANTE. adj. Qui va en montant. Terme de Généalogie, qui se dit Des personnes dont on est né. En ce sens il n est guère d usage que dans cette phrase, La ligneascendante. f♛/b] Il se dit aussi en termes d Astrologie, en parlant Des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • ascendant — ASCENDANT, [ascend]ante adj. Qui va en montant. Il se dit en Genealogie, & signifie les personnes dont on est né. Le mariage est deffendu entre les ascendans, & les descendans en ligne directe. ligne ascendante. Il se dit aussi des astres & des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Ascendant — As*cend ant, n. [F. ascendant, L. ascendens; p. pr. of ascendere.] 1. Ascent; height; elevation. [R.] [1913 Webster] Sciences that were then in their highest ascendant. Temple. [1913 Webster] 2. (Astrol.) The horoscope, or that degree of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ascendant — As*cend ant, Ascendent As*cend ent, a. 1. Rising toward the zenith; above the horizon. [1913 Webster] The constellation . . . about that time ascendant. Browne. [1913 Webster] 2. Rising; ascending. Ruskin. [1913 Webster] 3. Superior; surpassing;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ascendant — ► ADJECTIVE 1) holding a position of increasing status or influence. 2) Astrology (of a planet, zodiacal degree, or sign) on or close to the intersection of the ecliptic with the eastern horizon. ► NOUN Astrology ▪ the ascendant point. ● in the… …   English terms dictionary

  • ascendant — as·cen·dant /ə sen dənt/ n: ancestor Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. ascendant …   Law dictionary

  • ascendant — late 14c., ascendent, astrological use is earliest, from M.Fr. ascendant (n., adj.) and directly from L. ascendentem (nom. ascendans), prp. of ascendere to mount, ascend, go up (see ASCEND (Cf. ascend)). Sense moving upward, rising is recorded… …   Etymology dictionary

  • ascendant — [ə sen′dənt] adj. [OFr < L ascendens, prp. of ascendere, ASCEND] 1. rising; ascending 2. in control; dominant; superior 3. [often A ] Astrol. designating or of the ASCENDANT (n. 3); rising 4. Bot. ASCENDIN …   English World dictionary

  • Ascendant — (fr., Assangdang), Ansehen, Gewalt, die man über Einen hat …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • ascendant — 1. ascendant, ante [ asɑ̃dɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. • 1503; lat. ascendens, de ascendere « monter » ♦ Qui va en montant, vers le haut. ⇒ montant. Mouvement ascendant. Fig. Marche ascendante. ⇒ progression; gradation. « la marche ascendante de l Église vers… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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