the ascendant

The Ascendant 2
Understanding the Ascendant

the ascendant


As noted previously, in the unfolding of a life, the first decanate of any sign on the Ascendant creates a focus upon self-advancement; the second decanate, a focus upon personal relationships; and the third decanate, a focus upon the integration of the individual into the grouping of choice, whether that is social, political, or spiritual. The order of the decanates corresponds to the stages of the evolutionary route of the personality towards Soul alignment. Yet the decanate of the Rising Sign is not an absolute measure of development.  In a natal chart, it takes its place in the pattern overall, and whilst those with the first decanate on the Ascendant will give a more self- interested and self- serving expression of the energy of the sign,  it is not uncommon to find evolved individuals born with the first decanate of a sign Rising, and opening up consciousness to a different kind of experience from that which has been central to their development up to this lifetime.  These relatively advanced beings may be as clumsy in their handling of this energy, which is new to them as anyone else, but they will be able to pick up on the energy of the Esoteric Ruler more readily.

The Fire Signs on the Ascendant

Essentially, the concern of the Fire Signs is possibility. On the Ascendant of the natal chart, they indicate an individual who, consciously or not, is in pursuit of opportunities to realise these possibilities. Typically, those with Fire signs Rising are energetic and single-minded in pursuit of what matters to them.

When the sign is Aries, the possibilities are closely connected to the individual’s personal desires, goals, and ambitions. With Leo on the Ascendant, the focus is enhancing possibilities that arise from celebrating individuality and adding the quality of love to relationships of all kinds. With Sagittarius, it is for the possibilities contained in spirituality’s open secrets. (Rarely will they penetrate into a tradition’s esoteric heart.)


 Orthodox ruler: Mars

 Esoteric Ruler: Mercury

As a practitioner, I have seen fewer with the sign Aries on the Ascendant than any other Zodiacal sign. Assuredly, this is because it is not of the nature of the Aries Ascendant to be bothered with ideas and systems or have the patience to sit through a reading. Those with Arien Ascendants trust direct action and the person they trust most to do it is his or herself.

They tend to be slight of build, strong and agile. Temperamentally, they are impatient, quick-tempered, assertive, and spontaneous to the point of recklessness. They could make good sportsmen but playing games is not really their interest; they prefer real life action which leaves its mark on the world, and they have no time to waste. Those with Aries Rising may be a significant presence in the armed forces but I have no evidence to support this, other than the fact that they tend to have a liking for combat. In fact, the Arien’s whole approach to life is combative because they have been brought up to understand the world is a competitive place in which the fittest prevail. Their births may well have involved a degree of trauma in the form of surgery and steel implements, steel being the metal associated with the sign Aries.

The house position of Mars, the ruling planet, will indicate the area of life into which they will be drawn. Unless this is H3, they will not be much bothered with higher education. However, the Esoteric Ruler of Aries is Mercury and when this is making its influence felt, they can cut through knots with a few well-reasoned words. They are at their effective best when the matter involves them personally. Then, they are vehement and passionate. The larger issues of art and life are not of much interest to them, and abstract and hypothetical thinking is for those with nothing better to do.

Those with Aries Rising are not in the least embarrassed about disliking and avoiding people who they consider will waste their time, because they have little interest in what others think of them. Yet, are their relationships overall more contentious than those who are more tactful? Not obviously so, because everyone knows where they stand with them. They say what they think and avoid creating the kind of confusions that diplomacy and disingenuousness can bring about.

They are not sympathetic people and will not themselves have been brought up in an environment that encouraged precious behaviour.  As children, they will have been encouraged by busy parents to be self-sufficient and resourceful. The street wise young man involved in setting up a local bike repair and exchange shop was put on a two wheeled bike at three years old and left to fall off it until he got his balance. When he could ride, he had his own transportation to go where he wanted, which suited both him and his working parents. This is the kind of freedom the Arien Ascendant values, and that young man will bring up his own child in just the same way. There will be no balance wheels on her first bike either. Another Arien Ascendant known to me, was a neighbour, the son of a farmer, who was expected to help with any aspect of farm work as a child. When he moved into our street, he bought a plot of land between two houses, and whilst others of us were leisurely thinking through plans which involved a bit of light gardening, he dealt with the Town Council planners - a challenge in itself - designed and built his own house. He then sold it at a large profit and moved on to no one knows where.


 Orthodox Ruler: Sun

 Esoteric Ruler: Sun veiling Neptune

It is possible that those born under Leo and those with Leo on the Ascendant are less numerous than those born under the other eleven signs. In my years of professional practice, I have seen comparatively few, but I have no idea whether the impression this has created is borne out by statistics, although it seems possible.  Gold derives its value from being an uncommon metal. Gold and the sign Leo are inextricably linked. Leos like money and they like what it can buy and do.

Bob Geldof (Sun in H2) is a Leo Ascendent as is Richard Branson (Sun in H11).

The child with Leo on the Ascendant is brought up to think he is worth something. In my experience, they are often only children who are given a lot of time and attention. Money is spent thoughtfully on them to give them quality clothes, toys, and opportunities so they will feel good about themselves and develop confidence.  This is a very different situation from that experienced by the child who is showered with gifts by way of compensation because their successful parents are really more interested in their own careers. Although Branson was not an only child, he was the only boy. In his autobiography, he describes his mother’s tough-love policy as designed to ensure sure he would cope and succeed as an adult despite his dyslexia and poor academic performance.

Although there may be insecurity with the first decanate, the child with Leo Rising is confident, knows how to dress to command attention, and is ready to shine in the area of life indicated by the house in which the Sun is located.  In general, those with Leo Rising are not competitive because they have been brought up to see life as a celebration of who we are, not competition for scarce resources. They understand that all individuals are unique and have different gifts to bring to the table, which encourages generosity of spirit and the ability to give appreciation to others.

They do not thrive alone because they need others around to make them give of their best. They need attention as a plant needs water. They expect their relationships to be both enduring and supportive, and they themselves need to be to be important in the lives of those whose lives touch their own in any way at all. In love, they are loyal and demand loyalty in return.

There is usually the element of drama involved with the sign Leo, and those with Leo Rising can be histrionic and tiresome, often for attention, but they are usually able to recognize this and laugh at themselves eventually.  They are rarely petty, enjoy giving and sharing and can bring a room or a gathering to life. They are Lords of the Dance: no matter their size or build, the Leonine influence means they will move gracefully, especially with a partner.

In The Red Letters, Master KH states that the Leonine experience gives the point to human incarnation with its opportunity to bring together three kinds of love:  love of self; love of others; and love of life which provides the opportunities and experiences. Esotericists know that when three things come to together and work together, something happens. In the life of the Leo Ascendant, it is the development of the heart centre.


Like all Fire signs when they are on the Ascendant, Sagittarius gives out a lot of energy. Those with Sagittarius Rising share the ideas that matter to them with the enthusiasm and bomb-proof confidence that characterizes this sign. Their interest is in ideas which enable conscious human beings to connect to their higher principles and thereby to new possibilities. It is knowing about these possibilities that interests them, rather than the disciplines required to realise them. For those with Sagittarius Rising, it is always the journey, not the arrival. Sagittarius is a mutable sign, and the Sagittarian approach is like that of the bee: it alights, stays for a short while, picks up some pollen, and moves on, but the ideas picked up in this way may later be shared with someone who takes them further. They are natural networkers and were especially important in building up the New Age movement, regardless of how well they themselves lived in accordance with the teachings. Moving on is part of the Sagittarian experience. They remain questors all their lives and to be a questor means to be available to explore something new. Unless the open secrets in which they deal continue to beckon them, those with Sagittarius Rising stand to become depressed and bored because at no stage in their lives will there be a sense of having found anything that wholly satisfies them.

Bob Dylan has a Sagittarian Ascendant and for decades now has been touring ceaselessly, from seemingly, the need to simply keep moving.  The English writer, Lawrence Durrell, who died in 1990, also had Sagittarius rising. A questor for understanding of the nature of reality, he lived the ex-pat life that outwardly, at least, seemed like one long adventure in exotic locations in the company of handsome, understanding wives. Yet, in the last interview he gave before he died, he said that despite his consistent productivity, he had been bored for most of his life. The spiritual questor never got behind the veil, but the writer neither pretended that he had nor ever denied that it could be done. Durrell’s books are masterful studies of the human condition.

Those with Sagittarius Rising hold the fruit and admire it, but they do not peel it to get at the flesh within. Their mental powers can be exceptional, but they are often too free-wheeling, and too left of centre to earn the respect of the mainstream.

Typically, those with Sagittarius on the Ascendant are born to parents who are themselves interested in human potential and educate their children to be on their guard against the mindlessness and materialism which is its enemy. Formal religion may play a part in the parents’ life and thus in that of the children for a time; but generally, the early experience of those with Sagittarius Rising encourages them to remain on the lookout in a state of open-mindedness and to quest for themselves, because as children they see that the parents, even if committed to a particular religious form, have unanswered questions and a sense of needing something more.

The energetic, confident, moving outwards associated with Sagittarius is associated with its orthodox ruler, Jupiter. The influence of its Esoteric Ruler, Earth, is very different and has a sobering effect on those with Sagittarius Rising who can pick up its energy.

In a natal chart, Earth indicates the received wisdom of the times, the conditioning that comes from the collective and the social mores, not from the family and upbringing. It is located exactly opposite the natal Sun and is its counterpoint, challenging the individual to make its expression useful to its time and generation. The House occupied by Earth will play a central role in the way those with Sagittarius rising proceed in the adult years.

The next article will focus on the Earth signs on the Ascendant as in the Zodiac the Earth signs follow the Fire signs, the last degree of which (29 degrees)  brings  the two energies in a challenging blend.

 Suzanne Rough

 DKF-K May 2022

astrology teaching manuals