The Ascendant: I Get Around


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Many astrologers consider the ascendant to be like a mask that you wear. This is a little misleading. The ascendant isn’t something that you put on at your convenience and take off when you feel comfortable. The ascendant is more like a navigation vehicle- like a car or a bicycle, or even a plane or train. It provides a way to get around. Depending on your ascendant, you could be driving a motorcycle, skateboard, dump truck or race car.

The ascendant is the vehicle, the Sun is the driver. Who is driving that motorcycle- a 1st grade teacher? Who is steering that skateboard- a CEO? In the first case, the person may have an Aries ascendant with Virgo Sun, in the second, Gemini ascendant with Capricorn Sun. The vehicle and the person driving it may not have a lot in common, but they still come together. What you see might not be what you get. That dump truck may belong to a beauty queen.

If you have the Sun and ascendant in the same sign, then your vehicle might be more like walking- like taking yourself out for a walk. You walk your Sun around, and there is a thin veil between your ascendant and Sun, but it’s still there. You still need to remove your shoes and take off your coat to be completely yourself. There is almost no place you can walk in nothing but your bare feet. You need protection. You need an outer protective shield of some kind. The ascendant is that shield.

Your ascendant is the way that you get around, but it’s not you. It helps you navigate terrain and offers a method to interact with the environment. Your Sun is always the one in the driver’s seat while the ascendant comes equipped with the GPS.

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  • Michael Jones

    I’m curious what your interpretation of my chart ruler/sun in relation to my ascendant is.
    My ascendant is in Leo. My chart ruler/sun is in Aries 8th house. My sun and ascendant form a biquintile aspect with each other.
    So my vehicle(ascendant) and driver(sun) are linked. I kind of see that as i am both the driver and the vehicle. My leo ascendant is probably some luxury car with my aries sun driving reckless blaring subs, through the darker side of life(8th house).

    • I think your description fits 🙂

      Maybe a movie star, followed by the paparazzi, going on a high speed chase through a graveyard? 🙂

      • Michael Jones

        That’s how it be sometimes haha

  • Diana Vallejos

    The ascendant is the most personal point in our chart and it is definetly misleading to refer to it as “the mask” – our ascendant denotes our soul path which we discover through the feedback from those we interact with. If anything the mask that the person likes to wear is that of the descendant (its polar opposite) for example: a Scorpio ascendant person likes to hide their deep sensitivity and fear rooted from earlier trauma or past trust betrayals by wearing the Mask of their descendant and in this case it would be Taurus which is a stable, secure, tough, tangible and earthy sign. This is the mask they like to wear to conceal their vulnerabilities, however, what they project to others is their ascedant – the invasive questions, the walls up, the privacy, the skeptisms, and to some degree the intensity, mainly comes from deep trust issues ( in past lives or earlier in life they have been deceived or taken advantage of so they don’t take anything or anyone at face value and they have a special knack for seeking truth) so their initial reactions to new situations and people are that of a their ascendant and they discover it through the reaction and feedback from those they interact with. The sign of the moon should also be integrated with this outer persona as it determines the extend in which this qualities will be expressed.

    • Hi Diana,

      I’ve never heard it put that way and I’m not sure that I agree. I don’t think I skew towards Pisces traits to obscure my Virgo ascendant. In fact, Pisces traits are continually brought to my attention through others who encourage me to be less critical, more free-flowing, and less high maintenance. If anything, I use every tactic I can to hide my 8th house Sun. This blog is a great example of a Virgo ascendant at work – organized information that is easily accessible.

      That being said, I’m not sure that I’m completely on board with the mask idea any more. This is an older post from 2010, so my ideas have changed over time. I’m not sure I can quite put what I think into words at the moment, but I’m going to contemplate that and write a follow-up post at some point in the future.

      Best wishes,

      • Diana Vallejos

        Exactly – as I said, ” IF ANYTHING”‘ the mask is that of the opposite sign and not your ascendant. The ascendant is an essential part of who you are to be simply discarded as a superficial mask. For us who study astrology, we are already aware of the dynamics of our ascendant, however, for those who aren’t, they are made aware of their ascendant by the feedback of others, as you said, people have given you feedback of the qualities of your Virgo ascendant by encourage you to be “less critical” and less “high maintenance” and yes, exactly, your organized blog is definitely a excellent projection of your Virgo ascendant.

  • Diana Vallejos

    Perfect explanation of what the ascendant represents!

  • Saive

    Just wondering how a planet rising affects the sign of the ascendant? I have Virgo sun, Venus rising in Leo. Does it superpower the planet/ascendant combo? (I suppose I’d say in my case, not so much, as Venus is in 12th conjunct ascendant & NN, so far it’s all been secret enemies, institutions, wild animals, etc.)

    • A planet conjunct the ascendant from the first house would tend to lead the chart.

      A planet conjunct the ascendant from the 12th house seems to be variable. I know someone with the Sun in Virgo in the 12th house conjunct his Libra ascendant. He looks like a Virgo but is stylish and “attractive” according to his Libra ascendant. He’s exceptionally outgoing, even with the Sun in the 12th house.

      I know a woman with Venus in Libra conjunct Libra ascendant from the 12th house … she’s in total denial of her Venusian qualities, even though her potential is quite obvious to others.

  • george gilespy

    marvelously put on the ascendent: driver and the driving vehicle.
    good god michelle, you are amazing.

  • Jessica

    I just love your writing. And this is a very interesting interpretation, for sure. Any thoughts about an Aries sun, Pisces rising, with a Taurus moon?

  • Makeitadoublescorpio

    I have Cap moon square Libra ascendant. Do you have anything available on this aspect? I have a lot of moon squares…and am trying to sort them out.

    • I haven’t started writing about aspects to the ascendant yet, but I plan on it.

  • Libra Rising

    Awesome analogy. Makes much more sense than the whole mask/ego/soul thing others offer. 

    Does this make the Moon the backseat driver?

    • Lol…maybe 🙂 It would be fun to put all of the planets in a car. Mercury might be the steering wheel, or maybe the radio station.  Venus could be the extra add ons and decorations: rims, seat covers, etc… 

  • So I am a Scorpio Sun, Capricorn ascendant.  What does that make me? 

    • Something like that 🙂

      Actually, a lot of the Capricorn-influenced people I know like Subarus.

      A harlot driving a Subaru 😉

  • Zoa

    I really like your analogy of Sun-ASC to a vehicle and driver.
    I understand the ascendant as a pair of glasses. Not only does it change your appearance (because glasses of different sizes and shapes modify how you look) but also colors the way in which you see the world and react (or act) accordingly.
    So for me, Aries asc are a pair of sport glasses; Taurus asc are luxurious designer glasses; Gemini asc are kind of sexy-librarian glasses, etc etc
    They are not really a part of you, but you can’t take them off because then you’d be blind. And no one wants to wander through life blindly, right?

    • Michelle

      That is a good analogy 🙂 What is your ascendant?

      • Zoa

        My Ascendant is Cancer. I see and react to everything through emotions, which is very different from my detached Aquarius Sun.
        So according to my analogy, the glasses wouldn’t fit my face very well lol but with the Sun in the 8th  I am actually very comfortable with emotional depth.

        • Michelle

          It’s tough reconciling quincunx Suns and ascendants. One thing that Aquarius and Cancer have in common is that they often run with a pack – friends, family or a mix.

          • Zoa

            Yes! that is extremely true in my life. My friends are family and my family are friends.

            • Michelle

              Alright 😀

  • Nikhilantapur

    You are one of the best astro bloggers! Love your blogs!

    • Michelle

      Thank you Nikhilantapur – I’m glad you like it!

  • Tobias

    I have a sun square rising. Can you do a post about sun square ascendant aspects? I have my sun in aries and my rising sign is in cancer. Uncomfortable combination cancer worries blended with aries boldness :/ . I tend to worry about stuff and still do them. And I always want things under control, want to feel that I can handle them. But I tend to get odd looks because I tend to overcome things I dont would give the impresion of overcoming and some situations other people couldnt handle. Probably because of my inner warrior 😉 . And people tend to see me as snobbish or a know it all ,when Im sure Im right about different stuff plus that I should give up myself just so that people like me :/ . I think its about respecting your own rights and when you respect your own you respect others as well, love yourself and people will notice it. Its a hard thing because my cancer rising makes me also ver sensitive and the softer side of myself is often that side that being reflecting outwarldy and blocking my aries sun. Would love a post at least.

    • Michelle

      Hi Tobias, thank you for writing. I am planning to do planets in aspect to the angles, but it may take a while.

  • I heard that Scorpio ascendant is the strongest to have and does take over the other planets in your chart is this true or false ? I have this and feel that Scorpio has my aqua moon and Taurus sun bound and gagged under the bed …. It is hard to be me waaaa

    • I think it depends. If you have Pluto in Scorpio along with a Scorpio ascendant, then your ascendant becomes very powerful. If Pluto opposes your Sun and squares your Moon then each of those planets takes on a Plutonian flavor and that may be why you feel a heavy Scorpio-like influence.

      Thank you for reading lalena.

    • I think it depends. If you have Pluto in Scorpio along with a Scorpio ascendant, then your ascendant becomes very powerful. If Pluto opposes your Sun and squares your Moon then each of those planets takes on a Plutonian flavor and that may be why you feel a heavy Scorpio-like influence.

      Thank you for reading lalena.

  • Zodiacal_macaw_1210

    My Sun and Ascendant are in Sagittarius and both are in conjunction but at a 9° orbit. So, according to this, I would be walking around….boy that would get tiring so fast.

    • What does it feel like to you?

  • 😉

  • Nuada

    “You’re awesome then” hahaha Aries Sun indeed. 🙂

  • That doesn't sound so opposite- and I love your literal interpretation!

    So, granny drives the “teach 'em a lesson” mobile. Granny is still driving but the vehicle is huge and attention getting. Outwardly people respond to your brash, outspoken wise/sage/prophet/philosopher, inside you are sensitive, gentle and nurturing. Or no?

  • I'll respond to this literally 🙂 My vehicle and driving style are switched around from what you describe above. I always purchase the economical cars that get good mileage. I drive them like a cautious racecar driver. Exceptions: I have to get where I'm going in a hurry to make up for being late, someone is rude on the road. The latter instigates my instant transformation from granny to go-getter. My first thought is to teach the rude driver a lesson by either mirroring the rude behavior (if I have time and am in a bad mood) or calling 911 on their drunk driving. 🙂 Sagittarius Asc, Leo Jupiter and Cancer Sun in the 8th.

  • Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Virgo rising

  • Msfullroller

    Aww, thanks! Oh wow, if I remember from one of your older posts, you are an Aries Sun as well?

  • Obviously you're awesome then. 😛

  • Your South Node is exactly opposite your North Node.

  • wg.

    Oops, never mind, I found it. The same degree as my NN. So I guess it's conjunct Neptune. Now to find out if Neptune is benefic or not, lol.

  • wg.

    Interesting comment Gracehopper. I've been wondering exactly where my South node is, since it would fall in Scorpio in my 8th house, maybe in between my Sun and Neptune? My NN is at 16 8' 41″ and Neptune is at 21 Scorpio 21' 22,” Sun is at 7 Scorpio 3' 44.” There's also Mercury…it's shown in my 8th house, but it's 0 Sag 28' 38.” Anyway I was wondering if it's snugged up against one of these planets, how would I know if it's malefic or benefic, if I don't know exactly where it is….?

  • wg.

    Boy I feel you Gracehopper. Eagle-eye me, I just see everything, it's so hard to be just casual (three planets conjunct in Virgo, also DC there. Shy too.

  • gracehoper

    I have a Mutable T-Square too– Neptune in Sag on the 6th cusp (or within orb of it) squaring Moon in Virgo in 3rd and Mars in Pisces in 9th.

    I'm can definitely be a dreamy, intuitive person, prone to putting things off until the last moment and enjoying looking out of the window more than turning a crank for a few dollars. On the other hand, I can intuitively guess when people are feeling down and make them feel better without even trying, which is a really useful life skill.

  • Yes, I totally understand.

  • gracehoper

    The shyness and the way imperfections just GLOW….the way every little element of something can be so apparent, when I just want to see the whole, the way I can delve into my mind and critique or parse every thing I've said, finding fault all along the way! Mars in Pisces is so much more relaxing.

    • Lol, I hear you on that. I agree with everything.

      I don’t have Virgo Moon, I only have Chiron in Virgo and Virgo on the IC and although Chiron is opposing my Moon, I don’t think that’s all due to it. Anyways, that happens with me too, I can’t help but noticing imperfections and useless, tiny details, always analysing and criticising myself, people and all sorts of things. It’s obnoxious to the point that I find hard to accept the natural -physical or not- flaws everything has.

      Sometimes I think that’s why it’s so much more comfortable for me to make friends and get close to people through the internet… I don’t have any problem socialising, I just need to want to (which is quite rare lol), but on the internet I don’t get to see these unnecessary details, so I get to know the person better, to the point that I start to regard the person’s qualities as much bigger and brighter than the flaws. That’s something to work at.

      • but on the internet I don’t get to see these unnecessary details, so I get to know the person better
        In some ways the internet actually cuts out distractions so that you focus on the essentials.

  • Msfullroller

    Definitely the custom speaker system, but a micro suede interior since leather can get smokin hot in the summer and ice cold in the winter. lol Now as far as the engine, since I've gotten older the zoom, zoom is not so important but it still has to have some get up and go while doin the sip sip on the gas. I guess that's the Virgo, huh. lol

  • Msfullroller


  • Cool 😀

    So…do I understand correctly that you have Virgo rising, Leo Moon and Aries Sun?

  • Lol…I didn't remember that car, so I looked it up

    That seems about right. Oh so practical on the outside…but what's on the inside of this car? Custom speaker system …maybe the engine has been replaced with a used sports car engine (I don't know much about cars)….leather interior with embroidered flames?

  • Msfullroller

    I forgot to ask with Uranus rx/Pluto rx conjunction rising in Virgo and Aries Sun would that be a black cherry colored Honda Prelude, specifically the 88-91 model. Remember those?

  • Msfullroller

    Cool! I have the same placement.

  • Sorry if I can't keep up just want to say that i can relate: I have 3 planets in Pisces in H6 PLUS a (mutable) T Square __ALL Pisces planets SQ neptune (in Sag) & SQ Moon (in Gemini).
    I was a sickly child. Extremely sensitive to alcohol as an adult, and although I believe I'm highly intuitive – possibly psychic- I'm surrounded by very earthy/materialistic people who mainly value money. Totally out of my element.
    I have learned to use my sensitivity in a positive way through nurturing others and working with charities- the 6th house is confusing, rather mundane…whatever that means.

  • Aries/Cancer: A gruff exterior with a very sensitive interior.

    • Liza

      I have the same combination and I am not “gruff” looking. Depends on what other planets are in the first house. I have late Aries on the ascendant with Saturn and Venus in Taurus in the first house.

      • It does depend on what other planets are in the 1st house. It also depends on which sign and house Mars is in- since Mars would be your chart ruler. Thank you for reading Liza.

        • Liv

          What if you have houses with two different signs (1st house part Libra, more Scorpio)  are there joint house rulers?

          • Some people will look at the rulers of both signs, especially if the 2nd sign takes up a large part of the house. 

  • amoureuse

    ascendants has always been a question. i was confused. thanks for sharing this article. nice insight. i got aries ascendant and sun in cancer. totally different. but i guess it happens for a reason

  • Aw, thanks Sabina! I'm glad you liked it and I'm glad I can help you in your astrology exploration 🙂

  • Sabina

    This is brillo – you've explained so much so concisely and illustratively.
    I've been considering studying a bit of astrology basics and you get my vote as teacher most likely.

  • firetiger

    hahaha i so would… this is seriously a fantasy of mine

  • Grace

    Haha…Can you drive up to my bldg? I wanna watch the neighbors' faces…

  • scorpio rising

    OMG! you just told me about myself. I have all the issues you mention. Been a problem that I have struggled with for years. Jupiter and Uranus being in my 6th house right now is bringing my work issues to the front I can no longer ignore them.

  • There would be an extreme sensitivity to health, work, mind-body integration and issues you have about working for someone else, being of service or being in a servile position. You might also have issues about having to deal with daily obligations and routines when you'd really rather escape responsibility and everyday life.

    • LB

      For me it’s also meant occasionally having issues with various types of service and healthcare providers. 

  • I get you. I have Virgo rising with Leo Moon. One of the things they do well when put together is create someone with selective taste. And the ability to look good and be thrifty at the same time.

  • Lol…yes that heavy Scorpio exterior is so different from the Libra interior.

    I'm glad you liked the analogy 😀

  • Hm… I wonder.

    If the ruler of the 1st shows the actual physical body, I'd think its condition would be more telling than anything.

    This is sort of off topic, but I wonder about the 6th house and the idea of mind over matter. Many people with 6th house placements seem to have a strong interest in hands-on alternative therapy treatments.

  • i'd like to know more about sun and rising combos! so interesting.

    Thank you for reading leo girl 😀

  • What parts don't you like of your Virgo Moon? You seem like a natural specialist to me.

  • scorpio rising

    What is your take on Chiron in the 6th house? Very little info out there about this placement.

  • firetiger

    yea actually that divide between how i felt and saw the world and what my sun sign is prompted me to even start looking into astrology…because i felt like it was spot on for everyone else and for me i felt this disconnect with my sun sign…… come to find out ahh yes well my libra sun is in the 12th house at 28 degrees and i have a scorpio ascendant with merc venus and pluto there…. i like ur vehicle/driver analogy…. i feel like im driving a suped up phantom or batmobile and i pull up at the spot and out walks me wearing pink ruffles, mary janes, and some hello kitty hair clips heheh

    • Venus in 12th

      I feel more like my moon/venus/mercury in Libra in social settings, and have such a surprise when I recognize once again, that many in the social setting are suspicious of me, until I remember it’s my scorpio rising.  I have to make an effort to use my mars in cancer to connect and nurture trust of myself by others in order to fathom the depths that my Venus in Libra feels in the 12th house.

  • gracehoper

    A better description perhaps: the first house is your constitution, your body, your basic physical form and how healthy it is on Earth; the 6th house, as Frawley says, is the slings and arrows that life flings at one, whether it be sickness or servitude. If you have an afflicted first house, you can divine illness from the first house probably, or at least a general disposition towards getting sick… but if you have an unafflicted 6th house, even a well disposed one, that doesn't mean you will never sicken– we must still see the conditions of the 1st house, and transits, progressions, and directions of the Lord of the 6th (and the 1st and other anaretic planets) to the Ascendant and planets within the house. This is just my understanding of how to go about it, gleaned from Dr. Tamez on his email lists, and then reified through reading Lilly and Frawley.

  • leo girl

    funny thing, the same thing happened to me ! i'm a leo sun and just found out my ascendant is scorpio as well! 🙂 plus libra moon. i'd like to know more about sun and rising combos! so interesting.

    • cathyd0105

      I’m a Scorpio Sun with a Leo ascendant (and a Leo Moon).  Would be fascinating to find out similarities (if any!) with Scorpio Sun/Leo Rising and Leo Sun/Scorpio Rising.    I’ve always gotten along well with people (particularly work colleagues) who have a Sun in Leo, for example.

  • Ebonystarr55

    LOL. I can't think of two signs that have less in common.

  • gracehoper

    Isn't that the truth! My Virgo Moon is often the focus of a lot of what I don't like in other people. I think that's the problem with an opposition. I find myself taking the Mars in Pisces position a lot in my daily interpersonal interactions and projecting the Virgo Moon on other people. It helps to be conscious of it though, so I can own it, and balance the two.

  • gracehoper

    As an aside, I think my general level of health corroborates the idea that the south node is benefic with malefics and malefic with benefics: my south node is conjunct the antiscion of Saturn, the Greater Malefic and my Ascendant, yet my health is very good. Antiscial Saturn + s.node= Aphesis on the scales when weighing health in the 1st house, imo. (The pattern is exactly repeated in the 12th house, where natal Saturn is conjunct antiscial Ascendant and antiscial s.node) –basically the reflection, if reversed, of what is happening just 20 degrees further on at my true Asc. (It also helps that Jupiter is the Almuten of my Ascendant, and the ruler of my 6th house, placed in the 8th, where it is peregrine (if the Almuten of a Geniture can be peregrine, that is) but otherwise in hayz and has some accidental dignity.)

  • Grace

    1. Yes
    2. OMG I bet! LOL.

  • Ebonystarr55

    Learning about my Ascendant really helped me to understand why others seem to perceive me so drastically differently than I see myself. I guess that is bound to happen when you have a Leo Ascendant and a Virgo Sun. lol

  • gracehoper

    Yeah, I'm healthy, other than my 6th house illness issues (Neptune on the 6th cusp with that T-square etc = psychiatric issues) but as far as my body goes and my general health, I have always been a healthy guy. I imagine the two like two sides of a scale. On the 1st house side of the scale we put in all the health indicators. On the 6th house side we put in all the illness indicators. Then we balance them out and come to a conclusion about the person's health.

  • I've seen people assert that the ascendant (its ruler, aspects, etc…) is “health” and the 6th house is “disease.”I'd like a specific description of the difference between the two.

    Are you healthy right now?

  • gracehoper

    I believe you'll be able to divine much more about your health from your Ascendant, it's ruler and other details about your first house than from looking at your 6th! The Ascendant and first house are the house of your incarnation on earth. The ancients would use the minor dignities of the Ascendant to pinpoint details about the appearance.

    My Ascendant is a stressed/pinpointed spot in my chart both natally and particularly right now. It's conjunct the star Sirius. It's the midpoint of my Sun and Moon. Natally, Mercury sextiles, South Node & antiscial Saturn conjoin whilst Jupiter quincunxes (from Aquarius, therefor an inconjunct and not a true quincunx.) Progressed Venus conjoins. Transiting Venus sextiles from Virgo.

  • 🙂

  • Grace

    “Many astrologers consider the ascendant to be like a mask that you wear. This is a little misleading. The ascendant isn’t something that you put on at your convenience and take off when you feel comfortable.” – Right on!

  • It's funny how you can find the things you don't like about other people reflected in your own chart. Sometimes the traits we hate the most in other people are the traits that we like least in ourselves.

    Thank you for reading scorpio rising 😀

  • scorpio rising

    I really like your work. I have often wondered about it. I used to always dislike scorpiois. This is when I only knew about sun signs. Low and behold I find out my ascendant is scorpio.
    I like this blog because the focus is on astrology. not all over the place, current event, cooking, shopping

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