If that terminology is still a little fresh to you, let me break it down a bit further: While you have many planets that make up a natal chart (check out your own natal chart using a free online generator like this one), the celestial holy trinity is your sun sign, your moon sign, and your rising sign (or ascendant). Your sun sign reflects your essence; your moon sign is your inner, emotional self; and your rising sign is how you show up in the world, particularly to other people. It’s the "first impressions" facade you project before some get to know you.
So why use your rising sign to read your horoscope? Astrologer and horoscope writer Mackenzie Greer gets this question a lot, and she has a simple explanation to back it up: Your rising sign is so much more accurately attuned to your real life and all of its complexities.
"Reading for your rising sign gives your horoscopes a dead-on accuracy that you just can’t get from sun signs." —Mackenzie Greer, astrologer
"People usually protest this suggestion, wanting to cling to their sun sign as their one and only truth, but the problem with that approach is that accurate sun sign horoscopes are, strictly speaking, big-picture oriented—they’re not fine-tuned to the nitty-gritty details of the here and now," says Greer. "Your rising sign determines where all the houses or areas of life are set up in your birth chart, so reading for your rising sign gives your horoscopes, if they’re reliably written, a dead-on accuracy that you just can’t get from sun signs."
So when you read for your rising sign, you’re reading for your very present, public-facing self, and the instantaneous things you might experience. It’s not that the sun sign interpretation won’t have some truth to it, or that your sun sign isn't who you are. Rather, your sun sign is just a bit too broad to address the immediate goings-on in your life.
"Let's say you’re a Leo rising, but a Cancer sun," Greer says. "You faithfully click on your Cancer horoscope to read 'The sun has moved into Scorpio today, thus bringing a monthlong boost to your creative personal projects, a slew of romantic rendezvous, and a fearless approach to taking center stage.'"
In this case, you might go along thinking, "jackpot, baby! This fantastic news!" But as the month goes along, your sex life remains stagnant, your family relations have piqued in intensity, and as for your art? You haven't felt more plagued by self-doubt since your 6th grade talent show. So WTF happened there?
"If you had read for Leo, since that's your rising sign, you’d know that Scorpio season was actually taking you into an underground, deeply psychological, family-focused arena," Greer says. "Nowhere close to the glowing reviews that Cancer promised."
None of this means you should throw away your sun sign love (and phone cases, T-shirts, and list of cosmically sanctioned excuses based around that archetype). It just means that you can focus on your rising sign first when reading your horoscope, because that’s ultimately where the action is.
"Reading for your sun sign is like only loosely focusing on the background of a set rather than tuning in to the actual actors narrating the story right before you," Greer says. "Aim to read for your rising sign first for that clear-cut detail, then have a peek at your sun sign secondarily to get a feel for what's going on in the big picture."
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