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 rising sign says about you, according to 2 pro astrologers
Aries rising has a bold face, others perceive them as quick to charge at a person or situation. That appearance of aggression can be seriously mistranslated, so it might be good to mind your tone when you need the support.
“It’s easy for others to think you’re self-confident and/or arguing with them,” says Farber. “If you feel weak, no-one knows. Dial it down when you want to be nice.”
A Taurus Rising has a lazy (no shade, Taurus Sun here) but glamorous facade. They appear to cultivate the finer things in life, and enjoy them in a languid, public-facing way…maybe Instagram stories filled with prosecco and self-care nights.
“You come across as slow and deliberate but dependable—desiring of life’s luxuries,” says Zerner. “Use your poker face when you’re not sure.”
Gemini as a sign is witty and extremely go-with-the-flow, they have that rare gift of malleability. Just be aware that some people take that changeable nature as flakiness.
“While you’re widely regarded as smart, versatile, and changeable, those who are strongly opinionated may see you as uncertain,” says Farber. “Make sure you are understood.”
A Cancer Rising will have a maternal presence, which uh, can show up differently depending on which parental tone you tend to take with your loved ones.
“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,” says Zerner.
Leo Rising, lit by a similar fire sign energy as Aries, arrives to the party queenly, stately…and with an air of haughtiness, if you’re not careful. “Since you present as a dramatic, not-shy leader driven by ego, no one feels sorry for you,” says Farber. “Don’t be too familiar.”
With a Virgo rising, you project as a helpful perfectionist who knows how to refine any project to its most impeccable version…but there can be a lot of nervous energy during the process.
“It’s easy for others to see you as skilled, fidgety, and worried—no matter how you are feeling,” Zerner says. “Some may see you as childlike in a good way.”
Libra Rising appears soft and beautiful in the world because of it’s Venus rulership, and that can truly be an asset. “As a refined, unflappable, and indecisive person, you can get away with being a bit nasty because others don’t see it,” Farber says.
“You’re seen as sexy, mysterious, powerful, and judgmental—so passionate and direct, in fact, that you’re often misunderstood,” Zerner says. Try to throw off that cloak once in a while, Scorpio Rising, it’s okay to be vulnerable!
Sagittarius Rising basically shows up like Gandalf to Hobbiton. “You seem wise, honest, blunt, and likely to blurt out what should be secret,” Farber says. “Always a stranger in a strange land.”
For Capricorn Rising, your challenge will be about letting down your guard and sense of natural self-strictness. “It’s easy for others to see you as serious, all-business, and stern when they want to have fun,” Zerner says. “You get younger as you get older.”
Aquarius Rising has a real genius quality that others will find fascinating, and others will find-off-putting. “Many regard you as inventive, cold, eccentric, or weird, with your mind on the future and past, not here,” Farber says.
“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.
Originally published June 29, 2019. Updated December 8, 2020.
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