Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
You may not be familiar with your rising sign, although you probably already know your Sun sign. That’s the sign of the zodiac that you were assigned simply by the date of your birth. This is the sign of the zodiac which dictates the horoscope you read. But if certain aspects of that sign don’t feel quite accurate or you’ve wondered whether there’s more to what astrology can tell you about yourself, that’s when you need to learn your rising sign.
What is my rising sign?
Also known as your ascendant sign, your rising sign indicates the sign of the zodiac that was literally rising on the eastern horizon the moment you were born. Many astrologers suggest studying both your Sun and rising signs for a more nuanced understanding of your approach to life. Some people even find that their rising sign vibes more with who they are than their Sun sign.
How do I know what my rising sign is?
Type “what is my rising sign?” in your search bar and you’ll be presented with countless astrological calculators that will request the date, time, and location of your birth. You can opt to learn just your rising sign, which is the simplest approach, or you can obtain your full birth chart, which is the map of the entire sky at the exact time and location that you were born. Your birth chart reveals the placement of each planet in the sky the moment you came into being, including which sign of the zodiac was influencing each. It can seem as though you need a PhD to read your birth chart, but by learning more about these positions in your chart, you can discover layer upon layer within yourself.
What my rising sign means
Your astrological birth chart begins with your rising sign, which falls in the “first house” of your birth chart. It rules all thought processes, including your sense of who you are and how you present yourself to the world. Think of your rising sign as describing your social or outward personality. Its characteristics represent your physical appearance, your style, how other people perceive you, and any masks or defense mechanisms you turn to protect yourself in uncomfortable interactions. In other words, it reveals how you interact with the world.
So if your Sun sign casts you as a serious and straightforward Capricorn but others see you as sentimental, that might be the influence of your rising, or ascendant, sign of Cancer. Following is a glimpse at the influence of each sign of the zodiac sign when it is in your first house.
Remember, your Sun and rising signs—and your entire birth chart—are intended as information, not a predetermination. Astrology can offer insights into yourself and your manner of perceiving the world, not as an excuse or justification but to help you better understand the gifts and the limitations of seeing and experiencing the world through your unique personality.
See also: What Each Sign Wants in a Relationship
Action takes precedence over just about everything else for Aries. With this fire sign in your first house, you move through life at breakneck speed, most of the time following your gut without bothering to analyze the long-term consequences. You tend to come across as playful, competitive, brave, independent, direct, and opinionated. Because Mars, the god of war, rules your rising sign, you make a fierce warrior and trailblazer who values your intuition over all else and seeks forgiveness rather than permission.
Taurus as your rising sign means you’re unflinching in your values, loyalty, and easygoing, down-to-earth nature. You likely give off fierce, dependable, and strong-willed vibes. You work hard and embody earthiness in its purest form by getting your hands dirty with whatever you’re doing, especially creative projects. Although you’re not materialistic, you definitely have a taste for luxury, beauty, and the good things in life since Taurus is ruled by Venus. Because you possess a rather single-minded cautiousness, you might have a tough time switching gears and changing careers, leaving a relationship, or moving to a new city.
Thanks to being ruled in part by Mercury, the planet overseeing communication, you come across as social, playful, curious, talkative, and quick-witted. In ancient times, Gemini was the sign considered to be the messenger of the gods given its tendency to be charming, well-spoken, and adept at public oration. You have a highly creative mind that generates a million ideas a minute, which is the hallmark of this air sign. You may sometimes be overwhelmed by the desire to do everything at once, and this can also apply to your love life–Geminis are notorious heartbreakers who are just waiting for their perfect other half to arrive.
Cancer, a water sign, is ruled by the intuitive Moon. Given your lunar ties, your emotions fluctuate as quickly as the tides and it helps to be mindful of what sign the Moon is in on any given day as this affects you, sometimes dramatically. You are far more emotionally sensitive than people realize yet you are uncannily able to hold space for others. You usually appear nurturing, heartfelt, compassionate, sympathetic, and gentle, although you are choosy about the people allowed inside your home and your heart. Your sign is symbolized by a crab because you maintain a protective shell around more than just your physical surroundings. Although you present as kind and luminous, those sharp pinchers sometimes come out when your boundaries are crossed.
With the vitality-bringing Sun overseeing your rising sign, you strike others as positive, cheerful, charismatic, full of vibrant confidence, and fired up to realize your dreams and goals. Like the Sun, people with Leo ascendant are made for the spotlight, likely in a starring role. People often gravitate to your warmth and everyone notices when you walk into the room. You’re intensely creative, whether you actually work in the arts or simply cultivate a magnificent Instagram feed. Leos are known as the child of the zodiac and, like a child, you live in the moment. Not many others can keep up with your fiery—and sometimes demanding—energy.
Earth sign Virgo appears to others as down-to-earth, social, communicative, approachable, knowledgeable, and eager to find solutions at every turn. People may describe you as organized, put together, and reliable. Ruling planet Mercury means that you’re communicative, curious, and detail-oriented, as well as being highly attuned to your physical body. Many Virgo rising are drawn to yoga and other forms of physical movement and healing. Your air of perfectionism—whether earned or not—can be intimidating to others as you may seem a little standoffish and cool at first as you analyze a situation and the personalities involved.
With your ascendant in Libra, you strike others as an artistic, polished, fair, balance-loving, and conflict-averse social butterfly. Highly appreciative of the arts, you possess both a sweet romanticism and a sharp, witty tongue, and both these traits are apparent to everyone who encounters you. Represented by the scales of balance, this air sign can be seen as indecisive—and this is accurate, mostly because you’re trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy. Libra is the ultimate sign of partnership so you’re willing to compromise. With Venus as the ruling planet of this sign, you’re also charming, flirty, persuasive, as well as incredibly magnetic and attractive for ways that go beyond just your physical appearance.
Scorpio rising almost invariably means you are charismatic, magnetic, charming, and mysterious. Scorpios have a reputation for being the most sexual sign of the zodiac, so that may be what others notice when they meet you–there’s a certain hidden allure to the face you present to the world. But Scorpio ascendants are intense in almost all ways and have often had past experiences that caused you to put up your guard. Ruled by Mars, the warrior planet, and Pluto, the lord of the underworld, this rising sign is powerful, determined, private, strategic, and possibly the most intimidating-at-first-sight sign of the zodiac.
With your ascendent in Sagittarius, you tend to be dynamic, magnetic, exciting, funny, and pumped about life, love, and everything the world has to offer. You’re a fabulous storyteller with an exuberance that’s fun to be around. Sagittarius rising is known as the optimist of the zodiac given your contagious, outgoing nature. Outspoken and opinionated, you move with confidence and, even when shy, you don’t shrink away from life. Sag is ruled by all-or-nothing Jupiter, the planet of growth and expansion, which means that you rarely stop moving, both literally and figuratively.
This earth sign is ruled by taskmaster Saturn. With Capricorn as your rising sign, you come across as practical, sensible, down-to-earth, organized, traditional, and intensely career-oriented. “Grounded” is the word that comes to mind for most people when describing Capricorns. Prepared for anything, you strive for greatness in both your personal and professional life. As you age, your serious and responsible nature eases and you’ll learn to enjoy everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Strict Saturn is a disciplinarian and teacher, meaning that people see your ambition first, and only later does your wild and devilish side become apparent.
Aquarius is ruled by the game-changing planet Uranus. With this air sign as your ascendant, you give others the impression that you’re future-minded, curious, likable, inventive, innovative, friendly, and dedicated to bringing people together for the greater good. You’re all about being part of your community and making it better. Uranus is known for innovation and a little eccentricity, so you approach life with an appreciation for individualism. This ability to take others as they are means that others, in turn, tend to accept your quirks more readily.
You’re affected by the dreamy and the spiritual, which is appropriate for a water sign ruled by Neptune. People likely describe you as empathetic, gentle, kind, creative, charming, and having your head in the clouds. While it may seem like you’re not paying attention, that’s only partially true. You tend to be adept at taking in everything in your environment all at once but you wait to feel your way through an appropriate response to the situation. You often possess an irresistible charm that comes in a soft, quiet way, almost like an aura.
About our contributor
Jenny Latreille lives in Northern Ontario, where the Moon often seems much closer than it is. Preoccupied with food, culture, the stars, and art, she spends a lot of time in nature as well as in her kitchen, where she looks for ways to combine everything–and sometimes it works. She lives in an urban jungle with a pack of cats known as “The Adorables.”