Ever been confused by the three zodiac signs in someone’s IG bio? The sun and moon emojis make sense, but WTF is a rising sign? Let’s do a deep dive into rising signs and how they impact your personality. If you don’t know yours already, start off by giving your mother a call and asking the exact time you were born. You’ll need it to figure out your birth chart!
A rising sign, also referred to as an “ascendant,” is the zodiac sign that was on the horizon at the moment you were born. It will always be one of the twelve zodiac signs—Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius or Pisces, but doesn’t necessarily match the sign of your natal sun or moon.
Your rising sign is one of the major three placements that people mention when chatting astrology. If you’ve never understood what someone meant when they asked for your “sun, moon and rising,” now you do!
Unlike the sun (which stays in a sign for about 30 days) and the moon (which switches signs every couple days), rising signs change every few hours. That’s why astrologers, astrological mapping sites and witchy friends (and lovers) ask for your birth time when plotting out your charts.
Your rising sign is the first “house” in your astrological chart.
The house system is rather complex—and truly deserves its own post breakdown—but here’s a very brief summary. The 12 houses are part of a circular map of the sky that corresponds with your birth time, with each of the houses representing different aspects of life like family connections, marriage, and love.
While your sun sign offers great insight into who you are at your core and what your behavioral tendencies are, your rising sign is the first impression you give off to people.
You can think of your rising sign as your “vibe”.
Even if it’s not representative of who you truly are at your center, your rising sign affects the energy that people pick up on when they first meet you. For example, if you have a Cancer sun with a Leo rising, people could totally see you as an extrovert when they first meet you—even if you’re a very tender, introverted person. Or if you’re a Gemini sun with a Pisces rising, people might assume you’re intuitive and dreamy, when in reality you’re more social and mercurial.
People who are skeptical of astrology often wonder how horoscopes based on sun signs (read: just your birth date) could possibly have any sway on our individual lives. But it’s far more nuanced than that—with every planet in one of the twelve signs, plus all the twelve houses, plus the interactions between these placements, we’re gifted a gorgeous map for what we ~might~ be like as people, which is then impacted by our lived experiences.
Learning your rising sign can be a fun way to determine how other people see you. Even if you identify heavily with your sun sign, gaining an understanding of your rising sign will show you another part of yourself you might not often acknowledge. So next time someone asks, don’t skimp out and just say your sun sign! Give them the full spiel so they can really get to know all the wonderful things that make you, you.