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The Ascendant or rising sign

The Ascendant, or Lagna in Sanskrit, is the most variable of the major factors used in astrology. The Sun passes through one sign in a month and the Moon in two and one-half days, but the Ascendant sign changes every two hours. The Ascendant is the most important factor in prediction in Vedic astrology, with the Moon-sign second and the Sun-sign a distant third. This is logical, as it is the most specific factor in differentiating charts. Two people born the same day but at different times will have different Ascendants, though the other planets will change little. A difference in Ascendants makes a major difference in chart interpretations because it determines which houses planets will be located in and what domains of life they will affect.

The Ascendant is a spatial factor and reflects geographical position, particularly latitude. Two people born at the same time but at different places will have different Ascendant degrees, the more so the greater the distance between their places of birth.

The Ascendant shows the orientation of the Earth in the astrological chart. As such, it determines the outer domains of life and our action in the material world. We could say that the Ascendant represents the Earth as a planet in our chart. The Ascendant indicates our physical incarnation and how we project ourselves into the world at large. The twelve houses delineate the different domains of life and our potentials within them.

The signs reflect more our nature or character, the houses how we express and manifest it. The deeper and more cosmic aspects of our mind and soul relate to the signs and the stars. The more personal and outer expression of who we are comes through the houses and the Earth. In Vedic astrology we judge personality types not by the Sun sign but by the Ascendant. As the Ascendant determines the entire field of action for the individual, it becomes the lens through which we interpret all the different aspects of life.

Key factors of psychology

The Ascendant or rising sign represents the basic presentation of a person in the external world. It indicates the manifest self or ego, the outer expression and body of a person, Each Ascendant from Aries to Pisces has its characteristic temperament and qualities based upon its elements and other factors. We can classify people into «Ascendant types», reflecting these qualities.

From the standpoint of psychology, the first house is the house of the ego (ahamkara), the «I am the body idea» or self-image upon which the ego is based. It is a crucial indicator not only for determining psychological health but also for career, relationship and general happiness, which are the main issues of the self in this world. The Ascendant and the influences upon it show the ego and its projects in life.

Ascendant types generally reflect the nature of the planet ruling the Ascendant sign. In the case of planets ruling two signs of the zodiac, the odd sign will reflect more the active or masculine side of the planet, while the even sign will reflect more the receptive or feminine side of the planet.

While people do not always have the bodily type of their Ascendant ruler, particularly if other planets are stronger in the chart, the nature of the Ascendant will always affect their psychology.

Further reading