If you've ever wandered into the mystical universe of astrology, you may be familiar with your sun and moon signs and how they relate to your overall personality or essence. Your sun sign captures your outward personality, or your traits that others can pick up from the outside (i.e. are you a wallflower or are you more sociable?). The moon in your chart represents your inner self, which includes your emotional responses (i.e. do you struggle with detachment or have a short temper?). Your birth chart is layered with different planets, and every placement influences your character, but what's the deal with the elusive ascendant sign, and what does it really reveal about us? We spoke to a few expert astrologists to get the scoop.
What Is an Ascendant/Rising Sign?
It's been said in the astrology community that your ascendant is like your social "mask" you wear around others, but there must be more to it. Your rising sign is part of your "big three," which also includes your sun and moon, and is a huge influence on your personality. "It's also a cosmic compass that directs your attention," Tali Edut, one half of The AstroTwins, told POPSUGAR. "What attracts and excites you spontaneously, when you're not even thinking about it, shows up in the rising sign."
Tali and her twin sister, Ophira, have been studying astrology for over 20 years, and their intuition is so highly revered that they've been interviewed on talk shows like Good Morning America and have done readings for celebrities like Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, and Sting. They also just released their 2021 Horoscope Guide, which gives you a map to important dates in 2021 for love, career, and living your best life. "We have a Capricorn rising, which definitely helps explain why we've been turning every hobby we've had into careers since we were in elementary school," said Tali, adding that Capricorn risings tend to be go-getters and are excited about turning hobbies into professions.
How Can I Find My Rising Sign?
To calculate your rising sign, you first need to know your birth time, so call your parents and ask! The AstroTwins offer a free tool on their website you can use to find your rising. "If you don't know your birth time, you can order a birth certificate from the Department of Vital Records in the US and hope that the doctors and nurses recorded it," Tali explained to POPSUGAR. "Or you can have an astrologer create a rectified chart, where they walk you through a series of questions to intuitively determine the time you were born. We don't do those, but we highly recommend astrologer Suzanne Gerber."
What Does Our Rising Sign Really Reveal About Us?
To get a different perspective, I spoke with writer and astrologer Abigail Nora Brennan, who began studying astrology nearly a decade ago. "It's true that your rising is often how you present yourself to others, but it goes deeper than that," Abigail explained. "I like to think of the rising sign as the window through which the rest of your chart can be interpreted. It informs both how others perceive you and how you perceive the world."
In other words, the ascendant is sort of like a mask, but it's also the lens you wear to see the world and how others see you in return. "Often, if people don't identify with the characteristics of their sun sign, the rising sign can be a good place to look," Abigail said.
Abigail shares the same Capricorn ascendant with the AstroTwins. "My rising sign is Capricorn, so even though I feel that Libra influence really strongly, it's not always readily apparent to others," Abigail said. To further explain, she looked to David Bowie as an example. "Bowie was a Capricorn, a sign traditionally associated with tradition and convention. But he's an Aquarius rising — so suddenly, all his musical innovations, creativity, and constant evolutions and changes make a lot more sense," she continued.
Why Is Our Rising Sign Important in Our Birth Chart?
Astrology duo and writers Ellen Bowles and Imani Quinn from The Woke Mystix — a powerful platform offering perspectives from two non-conforming women of color — cohosts of their own podcast, and authors of the upcoming book Astrology SOS, a guide aimed at getting us through planetary retrogrades, gave POPSUGAR more insight into why our rising sign matters. "Your ascendant is important because it determines how you present yourself publicly and as time goes on, it becomes the energy you fully embrace," they told POPSUGAR. "The 'social mask' begins to fade as you get older, and the rising becomes your natural way of being." They explained that your rising sign doesn't get less relevant as you get older, it just grows to be a key part of your chart. "You will notice attributes of your ascendant the most when you are in a new, unfamiliar setting or group. It protects you until you are comfortable in your surroundings and with others to let out other deeper layers of your personality. That's when your sun sign really begins to shine!"