The conventional wisdom in astrology is that the Ascendant is just some kind of mask you wear. If the Sun is your ego and general spark of life, and the Moon is your emotions and gut reactions, then the Ascendant (or “rising sign” as it is often called) is at most the way it all comes out and presents itself to the world. It has a lot to do with how you look and how you come across to people, and the Ascendant is where we start counting around your chart to determine your House placements. But it’s a lot more significant than just that.
Suppose you walked around all the time wearing a gorilla mask. You would know you’re not a gorilla, and presumably others around you would assume you weren’t one too. But I’ll bet that if you made a lifestyle of it, eventually people would start to treat you as if you were a gorilla. And if enough people treat you like you’re a gorilla, you might start to act like one, and the more you acted like a gorilla the more likely people will be to treat you like one, and so on.
How you come across to people is a function of the Ascendant, and planets closely aspecting the Ascendant. But even if you don’t have any planets closely aspecting your Ascendant, your Ascendant is in one of the 12 signs. Figure out what planet rules the Sign your Ascendant is in, find what House of your birth chart that planet is in, and you will go a long way towards decoding how people see you and respond to you. In turn, you’ll also learn how others perceptions of you have affect your perception of yourself.
Here’s a handy list of those rulers:
Aries: Mars Taurus: Venus Gemini: Mercury Cancer: The Moon
Leo: The Sun Virgo: Mercury Libra: Venus Scorpio: Pluto
Sagittarius: Jupiter Capricorn: Saturn Aquarius: Uranus Pisces: Neptune
If the ruler of the 1st is in the 1st House, it can make for a bit of impulsiveness and an unconscious assumption that everyone around you understands your intentions when you say or do things. It tends to make you generally pretty personable too. Even if you aren’t in sales, you’ve probably had people say something like “with your personality, you should be in sales.”
With the ruler of the 1st in the 2nd House, your personal behaviors and activities tend to be pointed towards “security issues”… whether that’s making money or establishing your place in the pecking order. You generally come across to people as pretty solid even if you don’t feel that way.
Ruler of the 1st in the 3rd House puts the emphasis on communicating your needs and your thoughts to others. You like asking questions, are good at explaining the answers, and are probably kind of chatty.
The ruler of the 1st House in the 4th House means you like that feeling of security you get when you’re in a comfortable situation and are probably good at putting people at ease and at being a comfort to those in need… but an anarchic environment can really set your nerves on edge.
Ruler of the 1st House in the 5th House tends to make you a lot of fun to hang out with in general. You’re personable and probably fairly charming, and can handle children, games, and romance well when you put your mind to it. This can also give you some leadership qualities.
Having the ruler of your 1st House in your 6th House gives you a tendency to file and sort and organize the people in your life into the right slots, and you are probably most comfortable in an environment where you know your role and what is expected of you. You do good work and come across as fairly professional.
Ruler of the 1st in the 7th House gives you a concern for “the other guy.” it’s not your style to ruffle feathers just for sport or to step out of line, usually. Although you understand the natural “give and take” that comes with relationships, there’s a chance you might do too much of the giving for your own good.
When the ruler of the 1st is in the 8th House, you tend to express a lot of curiosity about life and love digging in a little deeper with the people you know. You can be cautious around other people at first until you’ve gotten a good sense of where they are coming from. You might get more sexual advances than you were looking for, and sometimes from the wrong people.
Ruler of the 1st House in the 9th House tends to make you intellectually outgoing… a “student of life.” You work best in an environment where there is a free flow of ideas happening within a larger, more orderly context. Ultimately, you tend to act based on your own judgement of things, and usually it turns out you were right to do so.
Having the 1st House ruler in your 10th House makes you goal-oriented, a good worker and employee, but also a good leader. You don’t necessarily want to be “famous,” but things go best when everyone understands why you’re here and what you’re doing. Maintaining a stable world around yourself is important to you.
When the ruler of the 1st House is in the 11th House, you tend to be good with groups, social circles, and understand “office politics” in whatever form they occur. You’re probably good at treating people fairly and equitably, and that sort of thing is especially important to you in your daily life.
The ruler of the 1st House in the 12th House tends to make you run on instinct, to have a sense for the deeper meaning of life, and to have a fair degree of psychic or intuitive ability. Sometimes that sensitivity helps your relationships with others… and sometimes it’s simply “too much information.” You deal best with the world when you occasionally get the chance to hide quietly away from it.