This post is inspired by an actual question I got in response to last week’s post on mutability factors.
Out of curiosity, and knowing next to nothing about the zodiac, how do you tell what is rising, what is fixed and why both are different than the moon?
Not to put my friend on the spot or anything, but the enormity of this question told me that perhaps I might want to share a few basics with you guys if I’m gonna be spouting off posts about Cardinal vs. Fixed vs. Mutable signs. My bad—cart before horse time.
So let me go back to the beginning and give you my simple-as-can-be tutorial on the basics of astrology. The chart I’ll use for examples is my friend’s. (She has given me permission to use it.
Just to be brutally honest, before the onset of computers, I was completely intimidated by astrology. Charts were a mystery, and the calculations needed to determine things like rising sign were horrifying math nightmares that scared me out of my wits.
You’ve probably seen a chart before, but if you haven’t, please just take a look at the one above. You’ll notices it’s a circle within a circle that’s been separated into what the foodie can only describe as pie wedges. There are mysterious symbols, degrees, notations, and shapes all over that sucker. There is so much to unpack in a single natal chart that most professionals take years to master it. We’ll just focus on the basics for now.
Your natal chart is basically your very first baby photo. See that horizontal line right in the middle of the chart? That’s the surface of the Earth as it looked at the moment of your birth. If you were standing on that line, the pie wedges above you would be the sky, segmented out into six sections. The other six pie wedges below the line are the parts of the sky you can’t see at the time of your birth. (For instance, if you were born at night, you’ll see the moon is placed in a wedge in the top half of the chart and the sun is in the bottom half. If you were born during the day, that would be reversed.)
Looking at the outer concentric circle, you’ll see what you might recognize as the astrological signs, each occupying one of the 12 spots in the circle. The signs represent constellations that are visible in the night sky, and where they appear at the time of your birth affects you and your personality. The 12 signs stay in place roughly a month at a time, but since astrology started long before we began using the Gregorian calendar, they don’t align exactly.
The Sun, Moon, and Ascendant
Now, let’s go to the chart again and look for a little circle with a dot right in the middle. That is the symbol of the sun. Up in the 8th house (upper right hand corner), you’ll see the sun symbol right under the symbol for Cancer. That means my friend is a Cancer.
Now, look for the little crescent moon symbol which represents, you guessed it, the moon. My friend’s moon is in 4th house (bottom right hand corner), under the sign of Pisces. So she is a Cancer sun with a Pisces moon.
But what about the Rising sign, you ask? What’s the symbol for the rising sign? Well, there’s no symbol for that. To find the rising sign on a natal chart, simply follow the horizontal line all the way to the left. The sign where the horizontal line intersects the circle will be the Ascendant or Rising sign. In this chart, the ascendant is in Scorpio, making my friend a Cancer with Pisces moon and Scorpio rising.
Of course, the easiest way to find these is just to read the little legend in the upper left corner of the chart….
And That Means What, You Say?
The easiest way to understand the sun, moon, and rising signs is with a body metaphor. The sun sign is like your body–muscles, sinews, bones, and joints–the basic stuff of who you are on the inside. When you are most yourself, you will come back to this default. My Cancer friend at the core is warm, nurturing, family oriented, and kind.
The rising sign is like your skin. It’s the part of you people see at first glance, your social self. It’s not a mask–it’s you, part of you, but it is that surface you that you wear in public. Just as the nature of your skin affects your body, the nature of your rising sign affects your sun sign. In the example we’re using, my friend’s warm nature is filtered through a Piscean mysticism. There is a quirkiness to her interactions, a love of mysticism and mysteries that informs how she expresses her Cancer base in the outside world.
The moon, however, is the part of your personality that you keep hidden. Deep and full like the moon, that part of you is revealed best in the darkness, casting light and shadows over the landscape of your life. This is the part of you that you don’t reveal to just anybody. Emotions, fears, doubts, and passions are the realm of this celestial body. My friend’s moon was in Scorpio, giving a passionate and strong-willed edge to her interactions. It is not always evident, just as sometimes the moon goes completely dark. But it’s there, pulling on the tides and affecting the subtle rhythms of life.
These three work together to form the core of your personality, the most personal signs in your chart. As we move outward from the sun, we learn more about you, your relationship styles, how you deal with conflict, and other factors. Once we’ve passed the rings of Saturn, however, we are no longer dealing with personal factors. Since these distant planets can take years to orbit the sun, they affect cohorts, even generations of people.
Knowing the first three signs, the sun, moon, and rising sign, in your chart can give you a wealth of insight into who you are and what makes you tick. There is a lot more to look at, but if you learn only this, you’ll be miles ahead of just checking your sun sign in the newspaper. (Do people still do that?)
So, have you pulled your chart yet? Let me know in the comments what your sun, moon, and rising sign are.
Peace and Love,
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