Rising Sign Primer: A Complete Guide to Your Ascendant

If you’ve ever wondered what a rising sign is, read on

Have you ever met a Cancer with a loud, raunchy sense of humor and a flamboyant style of hogging the spotlight? They’ve got Leo as their rising sign. Or perhaps your roommate’s Sun is in Virgo but their space is so scattered, it resembles an apocalyptic landfill engorged in flames. A Gemini ascendant is to blame! (Okay, that last one might’ve been a wee bit dramatic, but you get the picture.) Astrological anomalies like these are common despite some personalities’ cult-like commitment to their sun sign traits and can be traced back to a person’s rising sign in their birth or “natal” chart.

Now, you may be thinking, The jangling din of you cashing in on those fancy five-cent astrology words is muffling our connection, miss lady, and you’d be right—my rising sign is Virgo (more on that later). Stay with me, though, because once you understand how your rising sign influences your personality, health, and—most strikingly—the curated image you choose to present to the world, you’ll see why renowned astrologers like Susan Miller and Linda Goodman have classified the ascendant as equally powerful to the sun’s natal position. After the jump, your complete guide to why your rising sign rules and how you can seize its power in your everyday life.

What We Mean When We Talk About Rising Signs

What even is a rising sign? Commonly called the “ascendant sign,” your rising sign is the astrological sign that was rising (or ascending) on the eastern horizon at the location and moment you were born. Unlike the sun’s steady position at the time of your birth, rising signs—including their degree and intensity—can fluctuate by the minute. Energy generated by rising sign and its degree ricochets off of every planetary and house position in your individual birth chart, truly spinning unique webs of our astrological profiles and complete selves.