I recently discovered my status as being astrology-curious, which, among other things, means for the first time in a long time, I have something in common with my mom. While recently urging her to download the Co-Star app and quizzing her on zodiac zingers, I learned she actually has a lot to teach me. Not only does she know her chart (“Virgo sun sign, with a Libra rising and Aries moon”), but she volleyed with, “What’s your rising sign?” I had no idea.
Quickly I learned that ascendant and rising signs are the same thing. “Your rising sign or ascendant is how your spirit has chosen to project you into physical reality; it’s how others see you,” astrologer Monte Farber tells me. Your moon sign is indicative of your inner self, and your sun sign is your essence and soul—it’s probably what you look for when you check your horoscope.
For an analogy, Farber suggests thinking yourself as a movie projector: a bright light, a curved mirror through which to concentrate the light, and the film and its lens. Your sun sign is the light (the essence of the movie), your moon sign is the curved mirror (the inner workings that no one necessarily sees), and your rising sign is the film and lens (what the audience sees). You project your emotions (your moon) onto the world that’s colored by your light (your sun and soul), but the world only sees the image on the surface of the lens (your ascendent or rising).
“Your rising sign or ascendant is how your spirit has chosen to project you into physical reality; it’s how others see you.” —astrologer Monte Farber
Even though you might be a Gemini sun sign—and have the gold-plated zodiac necklace to prove it—the world may be interacting with your Aquarius rising sign. So do your natal chart (you can run one for free here!), because below, the famed astrology duo of Farber and Amy Zerner, authors of Astrology for Wellness, break down together how others see you, based on your rising sign. You’re going to want to take notes.
Here’s what your ascendant (or rising) sign says about you, according to 2 pro astrologers:
Aries rising: “It’s easy for others to think you are self-confident and/or arguing with them. If you feel weak, no-one knows. Dial it down when you want to be nice.”
Taurus rising: “You come across as slow and deliberate but dependable—desiring of life’s luxuries. Use your poker face when you’re not sure.”
Gemini rising: “While you’re widely regarded as smart, versatile, and changeable, those who are strongly opinionated may see you as uncertain. Make sure you are understood.”
Cancer rising: “Sensitive, shy, caring and s/mothering is how people may describe you, with the ‘s’ depending on how strongly you insist that you be obeyed.”
Leo rising: “Since you present as a dramatic, not-shy leader driven by ego, no one feels sorry for you. Don’t be too familiar.”
Virgo rising: “It’s easy for others to see you as skilled, fidgety, and worried—no matter how you are feeling. Some may see you as childlike in a good way.”
Libra rising: “As a refined, unflappable, and indecisive person, you can get away with being a bit nasty because others don’t see it.”
Scorpio rising: “You’re seen as sexy, mysterious, powerful, and judgmental—so passionate and direct, in fact, that you’re often misunderstood.”
Sagittarius rising: “You seem wise, honest, blunt, and likely to blurt out what should be secret. Always a stranger in a strange land.”
Capricorn rising: “It’s easy for others to see you as serious, all-business, and stern when they want to have fun. You get younger as you get older.”
Aquarius rising: “Many regard you as inventive, cold, eccentric, or weird, with your mind on the future and past, not here.”
Pisces rising: “You’re often described as having a psychic voice, projecting such vibes if something’s wrong. Know your intuition shows on your face.”
While your rising sign—again, how others likely perceive you—may not paint the most accurate picture of who you actually are, over time, you’ll be able to open up with your true moon-sign identity. Until then, being aware of how your identity presents is helpful for knowing how to cushion your actions and words. After all, first impressions can stick.
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