the ascendant

The Ascendant 4
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 overall pattern. 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 Earth signs (the subject of Understanding the Ascendant 3), meet with the Air signs, the result is dust, a tendency to look forward as Air sings do but without optimism. The expectation which Earth sign realism recommends is more of the same.

This involves:

  • Taurus 29 degrees
  • Virgo 29 degrees
  • Capricorn 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 Capricorn 29 is on the Ascendant and the closest harmonious aspect is from Venus in Pisces at 26 degrees in H5, then this Water connection from the House of Mind will lessen the rigidity of Capricorn and make it more receptive to the incoming Aquarian vibration.

The Air Signs

The essential quality of individuals with an Air sign on the Ascendant is their receptivity to ideas. Those born under all three Air signs move towards engagement with ideas that are new to them, and which appear to offer attractive solutions to problems of all kinds that they encounter in the Three worlds. Ideas are the directing force in their lives, and they look ahead to the future not back to the lessons of the past. Their efforts to try and bring reality into alignment with those ideas shape their lives and will be the cause of both elation and despair.  This is because the Air signs are better with an idea than a physical reality, with enjoying a prospect rather than working for its realisation. Only those with Aquarius (a Fixed sign) Rising have the stamina and determination to wrestle with the problem of integration which is the very root of dualism: Gemini moves on as soon as boredom threatens, and Libra is inclined to compromise.

Typically, those with Air signs on the Ascendant will be born into family where ‘thinking the right way’ is encouraged, but, across the three signs, what is considered to represent the right way will differ greatly. For Gemini, it is personal survival whether that is understood in material or spiritual terms; for Libra, it is harmony, acceptance and benefits through earning approval; for Aquarius, it is integration, finding a meaning and purpose for the individual in a collective endeavor.

On the Ascendant, all the Air signs seek out human company and rarely thrive alone. They are great talkers, and when Rising, all the Air signs are very articulate, and good at putting concepts into words and selling them to others. Within the human family they are pollinators, aerators, and trend setters. Generally, they are much interested in fashion and in being in the vanguard of change.

Regardless of whether they themselves take advantage of the opportunities arising from them, or not, those with Air signs on the Ascendant, open windows in our minds to let in new ideas,

Esoteric Astrologers know that on the Ascendant, the signs Libra and Aquarius are important in the raising of the Mental energy of the human family from its default position on the fourth sub plane to the fifth sub plane of the Mental plane where it can individuate, take on responsibility, authenticate creative expression, and direct intellectual energy with consistent purpose.


Gemini is the Air sign which most obviously displays the dualist conflict which is intrinsic to the human condition. Instinctively, those with Gemini on the Ascendant move on from situations and people when the fun has gone out of the association, often leaving behind wreckage on more than one level and, in the process, setting themselves free to walk on into loneliness.

Master DK said that those with Gemini on the Ascendant are caught up in conflict between Soul (emotional fulfillment) and Spirit (freedom). This conflict intensifies when Venus, Gemini’s esoteric ruler, is activated. Then, an individual identifies with being a loving partner whilst fearing the price at which this comes. I personally know two Gemini Ascendants who after being in happy, long-term relationships with their partner for some years, left within a year of marrying them because the idea of survival whispered ‘escape’ to them. Neither had a clear idea about where they were going.

The poet Tennyson had Gemini on the Ascendant. In his mid-twenties, he lost the love of his life to a brain hemorrhage, but he remained faithful to him until his own death 60 years later. In this way, Providence set Tennyson up to honour the voice of his Soul without compromising his freedom.  As Poet Laureate, that voice was to contribute to raising emotional consciousness in Victorian England, made possible by the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846. Tennyson became an enormously wealthy and highly revered man, but assuredly his life’s path was what today we would term a tough call.  The lines of grief for his loss of Arthur marked Tennyson’s face from early middle age. And later in life, he was to lose his younger son.

More commonly, when Gemini is on the Ascendent, the individual is neither steadfast nor reliable. They fall in love easily and out of it just as quickly despite all their talk of soul mates, although house position and aspectual relationship between the ruling planet and the Ascending degree will have considerable influence in this matter. Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde’s faithless and tormenting nemesis, had the third decanate of Gemini on the Ascendant. As a child, he had to experience the bullying, control, and sheer ill-will which characterised the dynamics within his wealthy and socially prestigious family. Likewise, Armie Hammer in our generation.

In my experience, Gemini on the Ascendant in the natal chart of an individual is likely to indicate a dysfunctional family life, regardless of generation. (In this respect Tennyson was typical).

When I began Astrological practice in the 1990s, those coming for readings at that time commonly had Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. When Gemini was on the Ascendant, this conjunction squared it from H4, indicating a disruptive home life, often involving drink. Clients with Gemini Ascendant probably represented up to 25 per cent of all those coming for readings at that time. As young people, they had survived the experience of domestic abuse and, being much involved with psychological thinking as spiritually aware people were at that time, they understood that they were damaged. They came for readings because they wanted to know what this meant for the rest of their lives. They were receptive and respectful clients who helped me learn my trade. I hope I was able to offer them something of value.

In terms of their physical build, those with Gemini Rising are typically of light or athletic build and often very tall. If we are prepared to include the street wise in the count, we can say that they are always highly intelligent. They have always been a major Mercurial presence in the arts and the music Industry (Bruce Springsteen – third decanate).  Now, they represent the same in the world of IT.  Bill Gates and Elon Musk both have Gemini Rising and Mark Zuckerberg’s Ascendant ruler is also Mercury but from the sign Virgo.

On the Ascendant, Gemini is one of the so-called Double signs under which twins are born.


On the Ascendant, Libra commands attention because this is what it sets out to do, the assumption being that the attention they attract will bring them approval and opportunity.  Women with Libra Rising tend to be naturally good looking, well dressed, well made up and well-tanned – if it is fake, it will be skillfully applied - because they wish to look more than averagely attractive. A reasonable, polite, and diplomatic manner is usually a natural complement to their smart appearance. They are intelligent (but not aggressively so) and avoid controversy, qualities which can usefully grease the wheels of communications of many kinds. What those with Libra on the Ascendant lack in assertiveness, they make up for in strategy. They are very good as adapting themselves to whomsoever they are talking.

Giving readings to a Libran Ascendant can be a huge confidence booster but after the reader has dealt with a number of them, the realization will dawn that giving agreement is what they do in conversation, and it is not a reliable measure of our skill and perceptiveness!

Invariably, those with Libra on the Ascendant will be brought up in families where conformity to the wishes of a parent is required. They are expected to be a credit to the family as well as to do justice to themselves. Much rides upon avoiding confrontation. Willing to see both sides in any dispute, they are likely to be peacekeepers in the family,

In fact, they often do not know what they truly think about anything or, indeed, what true means when two or more people are involved. Their ready compliance can be tiresome and even appear hypocritical over time.

It is when Uranus, the esoteric ruler of the sign Libra, becomes activated that they begin to be able to think as Individuals and hold their ground.

 In my experience, males with Libra on the Ascendant are handsome, well-turned out and polite but they are less identified with pleasing. Typically, they are articulate, sharp witted and very confident. Harry Styles (third decanate) gives a good example of a male with Libra on the Ascendant, whereas our ex-prime minister, Boris Johnson, (second decanate) gives a particularly bad example. His Scorpio Moon in H1 (in the same degree as Marie Antoinette’s Scorpio Moon) is the first planet across his Libran Ascendant and binds into it a quality quite alien to it.

A few words on this matter of the first planet across the Ascendant may be in order here. If the planet which is first across comes from within Houses 1, 2, or 3, it will greatly influence the way we project ourselves. If it occupies a sign which is compatible with that of the Ascendant the two energies will blend and work together to good effect. I assumed that Julian Assange was Aquarius Rising until I saw his chart; in fact, Mars in Aquarius (Air) is the first planet cross a Sagittarian Ascendant (Fire) and gives it focus and measure. Boris Johnson’s first planet across is in a Water sign and when it blends with air it produces mist. There is opaqueness and a lack of precision and openness in all that he does.

Historically, there have been some significant rebels and prime movers born with late degrees of Libra on the Ascendant. Mozart’s genius and his relationship with his disciplining father, Leopold, and death at 33 years old are details generally well-known. The poet Rimbaud was another prodigy. He also had a strict parent (a mother he called the ‘Mouth of Darkness’) who insisted on conformity, respectability, and achievement. He broke out in his mid-teens and ran away to Paris to live a bohemian life until he was 21 years old. Then he stopped writing poetry, cleaned himself up and made his way to Africa to live quietly as a trader and gun runner until cancer claimed him at the age of 37. His was a short life of two halves which his biographers are at a loss to explain. John F. Kennedy was another short-lived prime mover with Libra on the Ascendant and a patriarchal family behind him. All three illustrate the capacity of the sign Libra, especially in its third decanate, to confer genius, in particular with males.

The Esoteric Astrologer knows that the Wheel of the Zodiac reverses in the sign Libra to admit Soul consciousness to the personality. Perhaps these short lives, blazing like comets, deliver messages from a higher world as the wheel is turning and the planet Uranus is taking over from Venus. I have long considered the scientist’s ‘Big Bang’ to be the moment in consciousness when individuality is born in the human family, over and over again.


Whilst I have been writing this article, I chanced upon a statement made by the young Evelyn Waugh, long before he expected or even wanted to become a writer. I am quoting it because, to my mind, it nails what drives those with Aquarius on the Ascendant.

‘I suppose the desire to merge one’s individual destiny in forces outside oneself, which seems to me deeply rooted in most people and shows itself in social services, mysticism and in some manner, debauchery is really only a consciousness that is already the real mechanism of life which requires so much concentration to perceive that one wishes to objectify it in more immediate forces.’ He adds, tellingly, ‘How badly I write when there is no audience to arrange my thoughts’.

The Aquarian opportunity is found in an approach to life which connects us to another dimension, ‘a remote and much better world’ to borrow more of Waugh’s words. He understood this at a young age because he had his Moon in Aquarius, indicating that the Aquarian experience had shaped the consciousness he had brought into incarnation. However, with Leo in the Ascendant and the Sun in Scorpio in H4, his task in the present lifetime was to develop self-knowledge and self-expression. Waugh struggled all his young life to find purpose and meaning in ‘the empty charade’ of daily life.  Later, he considered he had found it on another level through Catholicism, a choice that had less to do with belief than feeling that he was in a purposeful and universal organization.

Those with Aquarius on the Ascendent, by contrast, hit the ground running because they are born into families where the awareness of a bigger picture shapes the values and experiences which are significant in the formative years.  They know to seek out groups and activities which enshrine the opportunities that enable us to see more clearly and, with greater practical benefits, the ‘real mechanism of life which is deeply rooted in us.’ This is true whether it is understood in terms of the soul and religious structures, or the human family and the organisations built to assist its welfare and progress. They know we need this sense of belonging to give a point to our own lives and raise our creativity onto a higher plane.

For as long as the planet Uranus is unchallenged as the ruling planet there is a strong interest in finding a setting, a group, or organisation which complements and serves the individual as he supports it. This involves a focus upon forms which make a clear statement about where an individual’s sympathies lie; especially when Jupiter, the Esoteric Ruler, takes over and the process becomes more subtle. The emphasis then is upon seeing the opportunity to introduce Aquarian values into any situation that will raise the level of the human family, rather than having a reliance upon the predictable forms, amongst which must be included the uncompromising, free-lance individual who does not conform to social norms because he supports something higher, better, and progressive.

Barak Obama has the second decanate of Aquarius Rising and the singer and campaigner Harry Chapin, who died at 39, the first decanate.

The sign Aquarius is changing as our personalities become stronger and Pluto in Leo sets individuality free from class and education. It is being changed by the increasing strength of the personality.  I have written about this previously. Professionally and personally, I have known some very robust and colourful egotists with the sign Aquarius Rising, but when they are not promoting themselves, they may well be aligning themselves with progressive causes which their charisma and reputation serves well.  Harry Chapin was a good example of this. They may be using their personalities in a way that would have been quite alien to the low-profile, team-playing, clubbable Aquarian of Waugh’s generation, but it is the vision and values of Aquarius which are important, not the personality package.

Suzanne Rough

August 2022

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