the ascendant

The Ascendant 3
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.

 Anaretic degrees (the 29th degree of any sign)

In the 30th degree of a sign, i.e., 29 degrees, ( 0 degrees being a sign’s 1st degree) the outgoing sign is at its weakest and meeting with the incoming sign which is at its strongest. If an Anaretic degree is on the Ascendant, it will operate in a fitful and inconsistent manner, as at different times and in different circumstances it will express one or other of the unfriendly elements involved. When the Fire signs (the subject of Understanding the Ascendant 2), meet with the Earth signs, the result is aridity: inspiration and energy is quenched by the realism and practicality of Earth.

This involves:

  • Aries 29 degrees
  • Leo 29 degrees
  • Sagittarius 29 degrees.

To manage these difficult degrees, find out which luminary or planet in the chart makes the closest major harmonious aspect and is able to provide support by sending its energy to the weakened Anaretic degree.

For example, if Leo 29 is on the Ascendant and the closest harmonious aspect is from Venus in Sagittarius at 26 degrees in H5, then this Fire connection will provide nourishment to the Ascending degree and, from the House of Creativity, support its Leonine expression.

If, however, the closest is Mars at 3 degrees Capricorn in H6, then the incoming sign, Taurus, would be the beneficiary of this contact from an Earth sign.

The Earth Signs

The essential quality of individuals with an Earth sign on the Ascendant is their groundedness in everyday reality. Typically, they are responsible people who are serious about life and whose sense of worth is connected to their success in bringing to completion the things to which they commit in the Three Worlds. The goal of Taurus rising is mastery; of Virgo, purity and perfection; of Capricorn, control and creation.

They are likely to be born into families where results matter and self -responsibility is encouraged either by design (Taurus and Capricorn) or by default, which is often the case with Virgo.

All the Earth signs welcome hard work and there is little playfulness in them at any age. They need to get down to things. They know they are not a lot of fun.  Virgo Rising with Mercury as its ruler can be very witty but underneath the humorous observations about oneself, others, circumstances, and life itself is the assumption and expectation that they should be better than they are.

In their different ways, when Rising, all the Earth signs seek to make time an ally because they know it will sabotage them otherwise. Their private and professional lives are likely to be structured by routines and regimes supportive of consolidation and accumulation of their resources, material and psychic, which will enable them to hold out longer against the entropic processes which eventually will claim us and all we have achieved.

The prolific Victorian/ Edwardian writer Norman Douglas (Virgo rising) has an ode from Horace on his gravestone: We are all driven to the same end.

The Earth signs pride themselves on their realism and whatever spiritual route they undertake will place energy management not belief at its centre.


In stature, those with Taurus Rising tend to be significantly smaller than those with Sun in Taurus, but they are still strong and capable of feats of considerable endurance. Their build may not enable them to be the fastest runners, but they will complete any race in which they choose to compete. They do not give up easily, no matter how long a task might take them. They are persistent rather than patient, finding solutions for themselves in preference to waiting for others to provide them. This tendency is developed in their childhoods, in families with a strong work ethic, where parents without the time or inclination to entertain or indulge them, encourage resourcefulness and stamina.

The planetary ruler, Venus, provides an agile and inventive intelligence, and once Vulcan, the Esoteric ruler, is activated, the individual will move willingly off the beaten track and go his or her own way, swerving around competitive situations and the egos of others to find their own route to their goals which will be connected to the sign and house placement of the Sun and ruling planets. They rarely seek attention or public recognition for which they have no time or need. Their faith was placed in a faith in self-reliance and self-motivation at an early age.

Those with Taurus Rising, respect things which can stand up to up to time, including their own choices and resolutions. They remain loyal to the things and people they have chosen to make part of their lives. They despise gimmicks, fads, shoddiness, waste, and extravagance and are natural conservationists. They may be maddeningly intractable, but they have a love and respect for life which comes from their appreciation of nature and the satisfaction of tasks completed.

If they have a spiritual message, it surely is: be here (in the Three Worlds), awake, resourceful and appreciative because this is Earth’s best offering to Heaven.

Although they are in evidence amongst friends and family, as a reader I have seen comparatively few Taurean Ascendants. Either they are one of the less common signs or, quite simply, they prefer to work things out for themselves.


If I have seen few Arien and Taurean Ascendents, down the years I have seen literally hundreds of clients with Virgo Rising. Those with Virgoan Ascendants come for readings because they are ready and willing to hear how to better manage themselves and their lives. They are the least confident and self- assured of the Earth-sign Ascendants and the least skillful with time management because of the difficulty in prioritizing the myriad things which they perceive they have to deal with. Virgo Rising does not have does not have the Taurean’s self-reliant mastery or the Capricornian’s Will to Power.

Virgo is a sign of regeneration, a process which commences with the physical being and which is carried on into the emotional being under the sign Scorpio. At one time, the two signs were conjoined. Now the Libran experience comes between them to add the directing intelligence to the two processes.

The child with a Virgoan Ascendant is brought up to recognise the faults and imperfections in his or her environment, through the influence of a dissatisfied, perfectionist parent, or through circumstances so obviously dysfunctional that the child learns for him or herself what needs to be put right. Either route represents a hard start to life and the child takes its legacy on into the adult years, searching for a perfection that eludes them for as long as Mercury is in control.

As the parent, so the child. Those with Virgo rising tend to be critical and complaining, not simply for redress for themselves but to draw the attention of others to things that are wrong. They take these offensive things on in the VIrgoan spirit of duty. The plaint of Virgo can be heard or overheard wherever people come together! Virgoan wit, unlike that of Sagittarius, the other humorist of the Zodiac, is brittle and even bitter with the aim of drawing attention to things which are wrong. Oscar Wilde had the third decanate of Virgo rising and although his plaint had his well-to-do London audiences in stitches, he despised the materialism, repressions and philistinism of the Victorian/ Edwardian era, the power of which even he under-estimated, with lamentable consequences for himself. Eventually those well-to-do-audiences turned on him.

The goal of regeneration is inclusion and integration of those things which bring about what Master DK called the heresy of separation. For Cesare Borgia, born in the fifteenth century, when Ray 6, Manifesting Ideal, worked through the sign Virgo, integration meant a physical unification of territories to produce a strong nation state called Italy. Cesare Borgia had a Virgoan Ascendant with Sun conjunct Pluto rising.

Since the activation of the Ray 4 in the 1970s, it is easier for Virgo to understand and cooperate with the shift towards inner integration through a range of Ray 4 healing techniques, including art. This is especially true when the Moon, the Esoteric ruler, is also active in consciousness. The imperatives of maintaining good health and managing stress can make the individual with Virgo Rising more aware and more selective in the matter of how they manage their time. They will always be critical and self -critical and prone to stress themselves through what is often a self-flagellating work schedule.  But when the Moon takes over from Mercury, there is a way on from the tyranny of imperfection.

Those with Virgo Rising are born for the spiritual path and although they may remain fundamentally disappointed with themselves and with a life which so often is a container half empty, they make great strides along it with their karma burning practical contributions. Those with Virgo rising abound in the health care field, conventional and alternative, and in social work.


Capricorn is a sign of power. When it is on the Ascendant, it confers a maturity and focus which sets a child apart from his or her peers. Children with Capricorn Rising are spiritually connected to their fathers and accepting of their example and value system. They listen to the father not the mother. This is as true of girls as of boys, and this endorsement of the father’s example and values sets their feet firmly on a path before others of their age are ready to commit. Typically, they are spare in build with an intense gaze from deep set eyes.

As children and young people, they seem older than their years, and the seriousness of the adult with Capricorn Rising is evident from the first encounter. Frivolity offends them and they do not see the point of facetiousness. Indeed, they fail to see the point of many things that others consider entertaining. They like people to be straight-talking and factual, and during all their lives they will have a preference and respect for the company of older, experienced people. Typically, they prefer the route of experience over that of higher education which, for them, is likely to be experienced as a loss of valuable time amongst immature people.

The ruling planet Saturn will connect those with Capricorn Rising up to specific aspects of the paternal inheritance which will then link up with the Sun by sign and house position. They will be inclined to look back rather than forwards in the creative process.

The example of Christopher Tolkien (third decanate of Capricorn Rising) comes to mind here. Involved since childhood in the work of his father, JRR Tolkien, at 21 CT became the youngest member of the Inklings, the famous literary group of which JRR had been one of the founders.  After the War, in which he served in both the navy and the air force, CT followed a scholastic path very similar to JRR’s becoming a university lecturer in English Language and an author in his own right before becoming his father’s collaborator, literary executor, and editor. He painstakingly constructed four more complete JRR Tolkien works from the jottings and handwritten scraps left by his father. He was given a prestigious literary award for his services to literature in 2016, a year before he retired.

Those with Capricorn Rising need to be the decision makers in any situation and are comfortable with the responsibility. Thus, they are found at the head of companies and the armed services, and as entrepreneurs who have no intention of being anyone’s employee. Their power comes from the confidence with which they face challenges of all kinds, expecting to deal with them because they know to where a situation needs to be steered and self-doubt does not cloud their judgment. In execution of a task, they are single-minded and focused. This is Will to Power, and it moves in a straight line from source, through its agent, to its destination.

No sign has a better sense of time and timing than Capricorn. Time is what we bring in with us and time is what we have to use well. Capricorn Rising deals with life as it is now. Their values are conservative. What they create is recognized by their contemporaries and they are rewarded during their lifetimes. This is a part of the Capricorn experience. Their interest, like their trust, in anything beyond death is slight and when the working years are over, those with Capricorn Rising may flounder for the first time in their lives. What to do now? This was not so for Christopher Tolkien. When he was in his 80s, he became embroiled in the filming of The Lord of the Rings and the matter of unpaid royalties amounting to, he estimated, £80m.  Although the actual sum paid to the family by New Line was not disclosed, we know his challenge to the film makers was successful. He worked on until he was 92 and allowed himself three years of retirement before he died, his task completed.

It is when the Capricornian experience appears in a natal chart as the Moon sign, that the Astrologer can see just how the evolutionary process is using these conventionally successful lifetimes for equipping individuals to be World Servers. The awareness they have generated comes back into incarnation through personalities who have paid their dues to the material in the form of responsibility and accountability and are now ready to move onwards and upward through a very different kind of life experience.

Suzanne Rough

June 2022

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