You are NOT your Rising Sign

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More and more, I find myself saying to friends, clients, and myself: “You are not your rising sign.” You are not your progressed rising sign either.

In the past, I have described the rising sign using these visuals:

  • A shell
  • A sword
  • A shield

Whether we use the rising sign for protection or to cope or get out of a sticky situation, it does come in handy. The rising sign is possibly the tool in our belt that is easiest to wield.

And yet, I feel compelled to convey the message again: “You are NOT your rising sign.” So what’s the big deal and why is it important to remember this?

The most significant reason is self-awareness. The rising sign is something you have access to, but is not who you really are. If you feel threatened, it is the best tool for the job, but just like a sword or a shield, it can get cumbersome if you constantly have it in hand.

Your happiest times will come when you can express your sun sign freely, supported by your rising sign, but not hindered by it.

Let’s discuss a few examples…

1. Cancer with Virgo Rising

Cancer values home more than any other. Their home is their castle. They want their home to be warm and dry, safe and secure, but also inviting. Yes, the crab shell is a great retreat, but a Cancer is happiest when they can cuddle at home with friends, family, and/or the significant other.

Now Virgo’s priorities are a bit different. They are driven to improve anything they value. Yes, a Virgo can overlook clutter—if it doesn’t matter to them—but if they love something, they are going to expend a little elbow grease to luster the shine.

If you are a Cancer with Virgo on the ascendant, you might at times find yourself being very picky about your house. You might have little tolerance for messiness. You might find yourself cleaning almost obsessively. You might look around and see your home as not good enough for company…and uncomfortable for yourself.

A crab can retreat into its shell when it feels threatened, but a Cancer with Virgo rising might not retreat so easily. Or maybe retreating isn’t an option given the situation at home. The basic point is: when this Cancer is unhappy at home, he or she may overly rely on the Virgo rising in an effort to clean it all up.

“You are not a Virgo,” spirit says to you. If you’re obsessing, you might be missing the point of what’s really wrong. Maybe the condition of the house is not the problem. Maybe there is an emotional issue that needs to be addressed, discussed, and brought out from an uncomfortable, dark place to a light, safe, and secure one.

For the record, my progressed sun is in Cancer and my progressed ascendant is in Virgo. I have become neater and cleaner at home these years, but when I find myself getting tweaked about it, I now know to look more closely at how I’m feeling and why.

Yes, cleaning my house feels good—it’s productive. It gives me something to focus on and allows me to expend some energy. But it also diverts my attention from what I am feeling. Sometimes, I just need to admit that I feel what I feel, and then take it from there.

2. Leo with Gemini Rising

A true Gemini likes to roam and wander freely. They are like humming birds seeking out the next beautiful and fragrant flower. And like humming birds, when a threat comes near…they’re outta there! Geminis are more apt to flee than confront. And Geminis are quite logical too. Because they value freedom highly, they apply that standard to others: need space…give space.

Leo is a different animal, however. What a Leo values more than anything is loyalty. Leo is fixed fire; one way to think of that is constant connection. Leos radiate their love, and want to feel the love of others that same way…even if at a distance. Leos are here to shine. Do they like the attention that follows? Sure.

Let’s say a Leo with Gemini rising is abandoned or betrayed by a loved one. Will they roar like the lion? Probably not. A Leo with Gemini on the ascendant is more likely to detach…from the situation, but also from their hurt feelings. They will use logic to lessen the betrayal…or they may possibly tell themselves that the other person didn’t really abandon them at all—they just needed space and what’s wrong in that?

The thing with Gemini is this: their logic is sound. So the Leo, when in their head, might find no fault done and thus be at a loss to justify their feelings. They might even talk themselves out of their pain altogether. But I ask you this: if they feel hurt, are they not still hurt? This person might end up repressing their pain rather than releasing it.

Logic is great, but it does not rule everything. Feelings count a TON, even if they don’t make sense. Instead of wondering whether it is logical to feel what we feel, it is better to accept the feelings and allow them to be, which then also allows them to pass.

3. Gemini with Leo Rising

Unlike the previous example, I am the opposite: a Gemini with Leo rising. What I have noticed about myself is that, when I am most unhappy, I tend to exhibit negative Leo traits. My air gets consumed with fire. My mutability gets squashed—rooted into stubborn fixity. I start feeling and acting like I’m better than those around me: “How dare they treat ME like this!” My concern about appearances and what other people think can stunt my freedom of expression.

My Leo rising does support me at times too. When I’m being my Gemini self in a public setting, my Leo rising helps me shine. It allows me be more extroverted than I am naturally. Leo on the ascendant strengthens the sun sign. It is supposed to help me be more Gemini…not more Leo.


There are 144 combinations of sun sign and rising. Even when both are the same, we typically express them differently. Add in your progressed sun and rising, and you have a complex picture indeed.

The point of this article is not to weigh signs against each other or claim that any one way of being is better than any other way. The point is, we are NOT our rising sign, and when we find ourselves exhibiting the personality of our rising sign too much, then it is valuable to recognize that something is wrong. We resort to our rising sign when we feel uncomfortable, hurt, insecure, and/or threatened. Maybe what’s really wrong is just beyond our notice.

Our rising sign can help us avoid our unwanted feelings, but it is not likely the best way to resolve them.

If you are not sure what your rising sign is, or if you’re struggling with something, an Astrology reading just might be convalescent. We are in the sign of Gemini now, and a Gemini would say, “Knowledge is power!”


6 thoughts on “You are NOT your Rising Sign”

  1. My studies of the cosmobiologists (Witte, Ebertin, etc) and their views on the “angles”, including the Ascendant and Midheaven led me to a wholly different understanding of the Ascendant or Rising Sign. Some have called the Ascendant a description of your Environment and others have said it’s “how others see you”. The Ascendant/Descendant axis is very important because it does often describe our sense of “self” vs. “other”…. and the two polarities are intimately connected. You cannot really look at one without looking at the other. Some our greatest self-realizations come through our relationships with others. One of the best astrology books and, also one of the best Jungian psychology books, I have read on this subject is by an astrologer/writer from Houston named Rebeca Eigen and it’s titled The Shadow Dance: the astrological 7th House. She explains how we attract people into our lives who often represent an aspect of our Shadow, which is simply some part of our self that we deny or that we have not fully integrated with the rest of our psyche. Usually we attract a person who manifests an exaggerated or dramatized version of the Shadow in order to get our attention. In truth, we are often a representation of the other person’s Shadow as well. We are drawn to one another in order to grow, learn and become more whole.

    But back to the Cosmobiologists and their views on the angles. It is their opinion that any planets which are closely conjunct the angles, especially the Ascendant, take on a powerful role in the birth chart and, in fact, become a “chart ruler.” With Neptune conjunct my Ascendant, I have found this to be profoundly true.

    My personal opinion about the Ascendant is that it is a sort of interface between the physical world and the spiritual world. It is the sensitive point or window through which we incarnated on this earth and it remains a connection to the spirit for the entirety of our lives. When transiting planets “cross” our Ascendants, we FEEL it and we EXPERIENCE it, usually in quite profound ways. Likewise, when we meet someone who’s natal planets conjunct our Ascendant (or Descendant) we experience the relationship as deeply transformative and karmic.

    So, while I agree with you that we are NOT our Ascendants…. I do believe that this Sign on our “personal horizon”… the degree at which our SUN was RISING at the moment we were born, is a key and a vehicle to help us become more self-aware, which ultimately leads us back to our Source, our Sun.


    1. Juliet – Thanks for the great comment and information! In my article, I only touched on one small way that we (tend to) use our rising sign. As your comment suggests, there is OH SO MUCH MORE!

      I have heard and do agree that others can see us as our rising sign…at first. I can often guess someone’s rising sign in the first 15 minutes of meeting them. When I’ve tested this, I’ve been WAY better than chance.

      But I also want to point out (for others who might read this) that the rising sign is the cusp (and sign ruler) of the 1st house, so it is also about HOW WE SEE OURSELVES! That gets back to my article.

      Our 1st house isn’t who we really are either, but what happens there (natal, transit, progression, etc) can certainly influence our (typically limited) view of ourselves and thus IS—as you stated—a vehicle to greater self-awareness. So again we agree that the rising sign is significant.

      I’m going to sit with everything you wrote about the decedent—for the time being—and see where that takes me. You have inspired me to look at THAT side more…and this is exactly what I need to do right now! Thank you for THAT! [Spirit was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t listening. Now I get it!]

      And thanks again for the comment and all that it has inspired. Good, good stuff!


  2. I **WISH** my Virgo rising would rub off a little more on my Gemini. I have all the fretting and obsessing of the Virgo and none of the stellar Executive Function. 🙂 I loved this and now I’m going to look for it in my family.


  3. I actually REALLY love your description of the Ascendant as shell, sword or shield. I think it’s very useful conceptually. I have a Cancerian ascendant so I OFTEN retreat into my shell as a way to cope when the external world overstimulates me. I think we could possibly go through the ascendants and say which of the three (sword, shell or shield) each sign is most likely to gravitate toward…attacking, defending or retreating.

    I also find the sabian symbol for the ascendant to be truly uncanny in it’s ability to pinpoint someone’s persona in the world, and often with a vocational quality to it, so there is no doubt more to this powerful point. I think it must be expressed, but at the same time we have to move more fully toward the lessons and qualities of our Sun sign, so I do think awareness of how the ascendant can FACILITATE the expression of the Sun is the most useful approach I’ve found to describing the role of the ascendant.

    Thanks for this article, it’s given me a new way to conceptualize the ascendant that i think is very useful in practice. I do enjoy your articles, so keep up the good work.


  4. I believe that our soul is the ascendant and tha sun is what comes more easy for us to express, not to the world but to our selfs. The sun is our confident zone, but expresing the ascendant is what makes ous soul happier


  5. ”I believe that our soul is the ascendant and tha sun is what comes more easy for us to express, not to the world but to our selfs. The sun is our confident zone, but expresing the ascendant is what makes ous soul happier ” I agree but I do feel more connected with my ascendant with times , although there some truth with the article .


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