What Your Ascendant Says about

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The Ascendant describes the surface of your personality. It's your image, your persona, your mask, your vibe. Or think of it this way: Your rising sign is like the clothes you wear; those outfits aren't exactly you, but they aren't irrelevant either. They convey a powerful, unspoken message to others — and even you may come to associate them with your deeper self.

1 Aries rising: You're active, assertive, adventurous, headstrong, and sometimes accident-prone. Reckless and extroverted, with an abundance of energy, you invigorate everyone around you. You take pride — for good reason — in your ability to get things moving. When you know what you want, you go after it boldly. But you can also be competitive and insensitive. You have a tendency to take over. And when obstacles block your path, your patience (which is never your high card) may evaporate. You love to be there at the start of an enterprise when the excitement is building. Later on is another story.

Regardless of your Sun sign, your ruler is Mars, the warrior planet. Its location by sign and by house (as well as the aspects it makes to other planets) describes your energy level and the nature of your desires.

1 Taurus rising: You're warm, generous, loyal, and a delight to be around, even if you're slow to open up and resistant to change. There's something reassuring and calming about your steady presence. You're pragmatic and patient — a reasonable person who doesn't let little things get to you. At the same time, you're affectionate and pleasure-loving, with a deep appreciation of food, drink, art, and the pleasures of the body. You care about appearances — and you aren't indifferent to money either. It brings you the security you need.

Regardless of your Sun sign, your ruler is Venus, the planet of love and attraction. Its location by sign and by house (as well as the aspects it makes with other planets) describes the role of love, art, and beauty in your life.

The Wife of Bath

When astrologers analyze literary characters, they're usually forced to intuit what their birth dates may be. Occasionally, an author presents the essential information. Geoffrey Chaucer, for example, clearly knew his astrology. In his Canterbury Tales, he explained the Wife of Bath's bawdy behavior as the natural result of having a Taurus Ascendant with Mars, the planet of desire, in the same lusty sign. Don't let the 14th-century English stop you from enjoying her own explanation of her lascivious ways:

So who are the real-life people with Taurus rising and Mars therein? Janet Jackson is one. Barbara LaMarr is another. LaMarr, an actress from the days of silent films, married six times before her death from drug abuse at age 29.

Myn ascendent was Taur and Mars therinne —

Allas, allas, the evere love was sinne! I folwed ay my inclinacioun By vertu of my constellacioun; That made my I coude nought withdrawe My chambre of Venus from a good felawe.

il Gemini rising: You're talkative, excitable, funny, possibly an insomniac, and ever youthful. You pick up information in a flash and quickly adapt to changing circumstances (even if you also like to complain about them). You have a curious mind and may have writing ability. But you're restless, nervous, and easily bored, with a tendency to scatter your energy. It soothes your anxious mind to have two of everything: two best friends, two part-time jobs, two of your favorite pens, two books you're in the middle of reading.

No matter what your Sun sign is, your ruler is Mercury, the planet of communication. Its position by sign and by house, along with the aspects it makes to other planets, describes the way you speak, the way you learn, and the way your mind works.

I Cancer rising: Moody, sensitive, and imaginative, you live at a high emotional pitch. You're attuned to other people and skilled at nurturing and protecting them, yet you may feel drained by their needs and resentful of their requests. You're shrewd and ambitious, but your carefully drawn plans may crumble in the face of your emotional reactions. When you feel besieged by the needs (or criticism) of others, you withdraw into the privacy of your shell. Home, food, family, and financial well-being are essential to your peace of mind.

The ever-changing Moon is your ruling planet, no matter what your Sun sign may be. By house, by sign, and by aspect, it describes your emotions and instincts.

I Leo rising: You're flashy, fun-loving, charismatic, and friendly. The very opposite of a wallflower, you can't stand not being noticed. You have great personal pride. You do your best to appear lighthearted and confident, and you usually succeed. You're the life of the party — and more. You also have unmistakable leadership ability. You're empathetic, with a benevolent heart and a noble desire to make life better for other people. No wonder they want to bask in your glow.

The Sun is your ruling planet, regardless of the sign of the zodiac you were born under. It represents your essential self and your vitality, which is enhanced by having a Leo Ascendant.

I Virgo rising: A natural conversationalist, you have a quick, incisive mind and a thoughtful, controlled demeanor. Methodical and articulate, with an ability to juggle details that astounds the rest of the world, you communicate effectively, pick up knowledge effortlessly, and are highly observant (which is one reason you're so much fun to talk to). You make a concerted effort to engage with the world on a mental level, but emotional displays make you want to hide. Despite what you may think, your efforts to keep your feelings hidden aren't always successful. You have a tendency to worry about your health.

Regardless of your Sun sign, your ruler is Mercury, the planet of communication. Its position by sign, by house, and by aspect, describes your thinking process and the way you communicate.

Scorpio rising aliases

Some people born with Scorpio rising can't help playing around with their own identity. Examples include writer Mary Anne Evans, who published under the name George Eliot; Samuel Clemens, who wrote as Mark Twain; Washington Irving (of Rip van Winkle fame) whose aliases included Dietrich Knickerbocker and Geoffrey Crayon; Prince Rogers Nelson, who changed his name to a symbol and became The Artist Formerly Known as Prince; the spy Mata Hari; Grace Kelly, who gave up the glamorous life of a Hollywood star to become the Princess of Monaco; Jacqueline Kennedy, who left the country after the assassination of her husband and became Jackie O; David Berkowitz, the murderer who dubbed himself "Son of Sam;" and the chameleon-like comedian Tracey Ullman, whose many alter egos are of all races, genders, ages, and opinions. Why do they do it? Ask Sigmund Freud. Like other people with Scorpio rising, he too was fascinated by the mystery of identity — and the power of secrets.

i Libra rising: You're engaging, tactful, charming, refined, attractive, and easy to be around. But you have an intense need for harmony, which means you can't bear to be in a hostile environment (and you may disengage if you find yourself in one). You're also artistic and intellectually engaged, with a powerful sense of justice and a need for balance (that's what those scales are about). Partnerships, romantic and otherwise, are essential to you.

No matter what your Sun sign is, your ruler is Venus, the planet of love and attraction. Its position in your chart by house, sign, and aspect, is central to who you are.

i Scorpio rising: Traditional astrology claims that the Ascendant determines appearance. To my eye, that influence is usually a subtle one — with one exception: Scorpio rising. Dark or light, your intense eyes and personal magnetism draw people to you. You're compelling, mysterious, and sexy, with a strong sense of privacy and often a deep well of pain that can occasionally cause you to lash out. Despite whatever pain you may have experienced in the past, you're a survivor who takes control in periods of crisis. You have persuasive ability, plenty of willpower, and the ability to transform yourself, both internally and externally.

Regardless of your Sun sign, the ruler of your chart is Pluto. And don't let anyone tell you that Pluto is "just" a dwarf planet. Pluto rules destruction, transformation, and nuclear power. He doesn't have to be big. You should also know that two planets are credited with dominion over Scorpio: Pluto, the ruler of modern times, and Mars, the traditional ruler. By sign, house, and aspect, both planets play leading roles in your chart.

My friend Howard

Outgoing Leos are a dime a dozen. Hermit Leos, like my friend Howard, are a rarity. He seldom leaves the house, but when he does, he's as witty and entertaining as they get, and I don't say that just because he's my friend. So how come he shies away from relationships and prefers to stay home, nursing his modem? It's because he has Capricorn rising with stern Saturn, his ruling planet, occupying the same degree of the zodiac as his Sun. So he's a worrier, he's inflexible, and he expects the worst. No wonder he stays home.

i Sagittarius rising: You're outgoing, restless, and reckless. In your optimistic search for a larger, more exciting life, you cultivate people from many backgrounds, travel as widely as possible, immerse yourself in all kinds of philosophical systems (be they religious, academic, or professional), and can get all wound up over an idea. Witty and excitable, you're a lucky person with a breezy personality, many friends, and an independent attitude. When opportunities come your way, you grab them instinctively. But it's difficult for you to sacrifice your freedom for external demands, and you suffer when constrained.

It doesn't matter what your month of birth is — Jupiter, the planet of expansion, is your ruler. Its position by house, by sign, and by aspect, indicates areas of good fortune and opportunity.

i Capricorn rising: Chaos makes you crazy. You're serious, reserved, reliable, and determined, with a method for everything. Ambitious and competitive, you prefer to work within an established system. You wield authority effectively and have a strong sense of ethics. You may be rigid and prone to depression, and learning to relax can be a challenge. Though your childhood may have been difficult, your outlook improves as you age (and thanks to your healthy habits, you maintain a youthful appearance).

Saturn, the planet of discipline, is your ruler, regardless of your Sun sign. Its position by house, by sign, and by aspect, points to areas where you have to pay your dues, face down your fears, and create structures in order to achieve your potential.

i Aquarius rising: You have dozens of interests, legions of friends, and a cool, amiable personality. But you maintain a certain distance that can make you seem disinterested or remote, and you're unwilling to limit your options for the comfort of others. If you strike other people as willful or eccentric, well, that's their problem. Unexpected events, especially in childhood, made you wary and conscious of the need to protect yourself. More than that, you resist change and authority. Why should anyone else have power over you? You can't think of a single reason.

Rebellious Uranus, planet of the unexpected, is your ruler, regardless of your Sun sign. Before its discovery in 1781, astrologers assigned sovereignty of Aquarius to another ruler: Saturn, the planet of limitation and self-discipline. By sign, by house, and by aspect, both planets play powerful roles in your chart.

1 Pisces rising: You're romantic, impressionable, sentimental, kind, and so empathetic that sometimes just being around unhappy people is more than you can tolerate. Moody and idealistic, you have powerful artistic and psychic abilities. At your most self-actualizing, you can mobilize your inner forces and turn daydreams into realities. But when wishful thinking gets out of hand, you can be gullible, passive, and too submissive for your own good. I'm sorry to say that substance abuse is a danger for you. Fortunately, you also have a yearning for creative and spiritual fulfillment that can keep you on track.

Elusive Neptune, the planet of inspiration, is your ruler, no matter what your Sun sign is. Its position in your chart by house, by sign, and by aspect, indicates an area of ideals, creativity, and spiritual fulfillment. You also have a co-ruler: Jupiter, the planet associated with Pisces prior to the discovery of Neptune in 1846.

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The Art Of Astrology

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