Powerful like Aries / Assertive like Mars
Aries -- and its ruler, the planet Mars -- are associated with the first house of the Natural Horoscope. Thus the first house in any horoscope, regardless of its cusp sign or planet placements, carry some of the power, initiative, force and importance of the sign Aries ... and the self-assertion and energy of Mars.
The First House is commonly known as the House of Self -- and deals with things like physical appearance, casual manner, public attitudes and personal presentation. The first house, of course, begins at the Ascendant -- the cusp at the 9 o'clock position of the chart.
Astrologers also call the Ascendant "the Rising Sign" -- the two terms are interchangeable. The Sun, The Moon and the Ascendant are considered the three most important elements in describing a person's basic character, although a lot more goes into a full horoscope interpretation.
Ascendant / Rising Sign -- Same Thing
Your Ascendant -- your Rising Sign -- will be one of the signs of the Zodiac, but it will be the same as your Sun Sign only if you were born near sunrise. Most likely it will be one of the other twelve signs. There are twelve signs in the Zodiac and during the course of a day, all twelve rotate across the sky like a celestial belt around the earth.
Your Ascendant -- your Rising Sign -- is the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time and place you were born. (This is why a date, time and location are all needed to cast a valid Natal Horoscope.)
Along with its precision, uniqueness and importance, The Ascendant of any horoscope carries the symbolism of a new dawn, sunrise, fresh starts and new beginnings. Each new day is full of promise and mystery ... and so is each new life.
The Ascendant of the horoscope marks the start of a new voyage of discovery and learning ... which will define the native described in the chart. The totality of the chart describes where the person is been and where he's going. The Ascendant is the lens -- the window -- through which he will steer and view the journey.
Same day, different journeys
It sets the tone for what he will see and how he will interpret it ... for what it will mean to him and to some extent, what he will do with it. A person viewing the world through a Scorpio Ascendant will see the world differently ... and react to it differently, than one seeing the world through a Gemini Ascendant -- even if they were both born on the same day. The Ascendant helps describe what a person is here to do and learn. It is a significant piece of his personal puzzle.
Who are you? Who are you becoming? What does it mean -- and specifically what does it all mean to you? The information contained in the Ascendant supplies essential pieces of information that help answer these questions. Your Ascendant sign establishes some basic things about your character, its strength and its requirements.
Packaging ... and more
Some astrology texts refer to the Ascendant as the "packaging" of your personality, which indicates something shallow or artificial, something that is only skin-deep and easily discarded ... even something that is meant for "show" and may not have much to do with what's really inside. In a way, all of this is true ... and in a much deeper sense, the connotations of the Ascendant as your "disposable wrapper" are extremely misleading.
Your Ascendant is an essential part of who you are. It helps define and orient your personality. Yes, your physical skin itself may be only "skin deep" ... but it holds you together. It provides essential services and functions. Just try walking around without it -- and you'll learn it's value real fast." Your Ascendant is like that. Without it, something vital is missing.
(So Astrologers try hard to get a valid Natal Chart -- date, place and time -- when constructing a horoscope. Yes, you can still get something from the other, more easily defined components, but it's a lot of work to go through and still come up short, knowing that's what's going to happen ahead of time.)
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Aries Rising -- Your self-assertion is what you show the world ---> So ... what IS a "Rising Sign?" -- The Ascendant of a Natal Chart is also called the "Rising Sign." Astrologers use the two terms interchangeably. It is literally the sign that was rising on the Eastern horizon of the sky at the time you were born in the place where you were born. This is why it is essential to have both a birthplace and a birth time in order to cast a completely valid Natal Chart.
Your Aries House -- The Starting Point -- Where Action Begins ---> The starting point of life -- The house in your Natal Chart with Aries on the cusp is the starting point for your life's action. It's where things begin. When you're ready to launch new ventures or start new interests, this is the first place you look for motive and inspiration.
Your Sun Sign, Moon Sign and Ascendant Sign -- Just What's Going On Here? ---> Three ways of defining you ... -- The short answer to this question is: Your Sun sign tells about your basic ego, your Moon sign tells about you emotional inner self, and your Ascendant tells about your outer presentation to the rest of the world.
The Houses of the Horoscope -- What life areas do your Natal Chart Houses rule? ---> Defining the Departments of Life -- 1st House = Personal presentation, the way you "come across" to the world, things you personally embody, stand for or promote; interests, traits and attitudes that define you; who you tell the world you are
What is the Zodiac? ---> The Zodiac is an imaginary belt in the heavens approximately 20 degrees wide, containing the path of the Sun, the Moon and that of the principle Planets in this Solar System with the occasional exception of Pluto.