Here’s What Your Rising Zodiac Sign Actually Means

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When we think of astrology and zodiac signs, most people think of their sun sign — which, as you probably know, is easy to figure out just based on your birthday. But there is actually so much more to your personal astrology than your sun sign alone. You have signs for each of your significant planets, and both the planets' placement in your birth chart and the relationships between the planets affect who you are astrologically.

While sun signs are certainly the most well-known of our zodiac charts' inhabitants, you've likely also heard people talk about moon signs and rising signs, too. Here's a quick explainer on that: Just as the sun is the center of our universe, your sun sign represents the center of you. It represents your ego and your basic nature. Your moon sign, on the other hand, represents your more private, vulnerable sides — your emotions, your comfort zones, and the person you are when you're alone and most nourished. But what is a rising sign and what does it represent?

Unlike the bulk of your other significant signs (such as your sun sign, moon sign, Venus sign, etc.), your rising sign isn't based on the placement of any particular planet. Rather, it's based on the position of the eastern horizon at the time that you were born. So, you know how all the zodiac signs can be mapped out in the sky? Well, whatever sign happened to be rising (that's where the name comes from!) on the horizon in the east at the time of your birth would be considered your rising sign — and this is also known as your ascendant. Your ascendant is also reflected in your natal chart, as it is always the sign that the cusp of your first house falls in, meaning that it determines the cusp of all twelve houses that follow. It's a major part of your birth chart! But we'll get back to that — let's start by diving into what parts of you your rising sign influences.

So, What Exactly Does Your Rising Sign Mean?

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Your rising sign is essentially ~you at a glance~. It's sort of like the surface of who you are, and the version of you that you present to the outside world (intentionally or not). Your rising sign is who you are in a group setting, it's the first impression you might give someone upon meeting you, and it can influence how you react to things off the cuff. Bustle chatted with astrologer Lisa Stardust, who shares, "The ascendant is the part of ourselves that we show the world — our personalities, our appearance, and even our taste in clothes. It’s the part of ourselves that we willfully express." So while your sun sign represents your deeper ego self and your moon sign represents your more private inner world, your rising sign is sort of like your overall vibe and aesthetic — and this is true when it comes to your looks, style, personality, and beyond.

Astrologer Caitlin McGarry spoke to Bustle and expanded on this concept as well. "Knowing your ascendant is important as it represents the mask you wear and how you appear to the world, your general nature of day-to-day existence, and the manner in which you meet life's lessons," she explains. "Having a grasp on your rising sign is a really cool way of evaluating how you interact with new people and how others might perceive you." This is why it might be hard to guess someone's sun sign upon first meeting them — in truth, you're more likely to pick up on their rising sign qualities, in both their appearance and the way they interact.

Bustle also spoke with astrologer Albie Toribino, who expanded on the significance of our ascendant. "The rising sign (also known as the ascendant) in astrology represents the sign that was ascending when you were born. The keyword: I Am. It represents You," shares Toribino with Bustle. "It shows your mannerisms, your persona, [and] it also represents your body, your health, your direct personality, and your identity." So while your sun sign may be a truer representation of who you are as a person throughout your life, your rising sign is an integral part of hwo you express yourself. "The importance of understanding the Rising Sign is understanding how you like to express and project yourself to the world," continues Toribino.

Rising signs are a much more integral part of our personalities than one might think. Ever met someone who really doesn't seem like their sun sign? Some people choose to write off astrology entirely because of this (despite there being so much more to our personalities than any single sign could ever represent). Well, perhaps this inconsistency is due to a really a domineering rising sign being in that person's driver's seat. Astrologer Jake Register spoke with Bustle and expanded on this: "I personally consider the rising sign to be the most important part of the chart and more significant than the Sun sign or Moon sign," he explains. "People that don’t identify well with their Sun sign almost always identify with their rising sign, and I know that the rising sign is often the one that people (in general) tend to resonate with the most.

How Does Your Rising Sign Affect Your Birth Chart?

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Your rising sign doesn't just govern the in's and out's of your outward-facing self. It's also an extremely important piece of your birth chart, as it actually dictates the placement of each of your 12 astrological houses. Because your ascendant is always the sign of your first house cusp (which is the house of self), knowing your rising sign is essential if you want to be able to read deeply into your natal chart. "I like to look at birth charts as a roadmap of one’s personality, and the rising sign is the starting point," explains Register to Bustle. "It’s the most sensitive degree in the chart and the cusp of the first house, and it determines where all of the other houses in your chart fall — so that’s why knowing your birth time and rising sign is SO important if you want a truly accurate and in-depth look at yourself from an astrological perspective."

So your rising sign rules your house of self — which means the opposite sign is likely the sign that rules your seventh house of partnerships. "The opposite sign of your ascendant is the sign that rules our partnerships and relationships," explains Stardust. "There we can project our desires to connect into perspective relationships and even open enemies."

In order to calculate your rising sign, it's imperative that you have your precise birth time and location. Unlike sun signs, which change approximately once a month — or moon signs, which change about every two and a half days — rising signs change about every two hours. This means that if you don't have your birth time, or you're just guesstimating it, you're unlikely to have an accurate birth time. Even people who share the exact same birth date and year could have any of the twelve zodiac signs as their rising sign — it all depends on the time. Grab your birth time and consult a professional astrologer to get the dish, or use an online birth chart calculator.

Another interesting fact: Because your rising sign — not your sun sign — actually dictates the houses in your chart, many astrologers recommend that you read your horoscope for both your sun and rising signs in order to get a more accurate view of what's currently affecting your personal astrology.

In short, its unarguably a hugely important piece of your zodiac chart. "People call the rising sign the 'mask' that you wear around others, but it’s really so much more significant than that," explains Register to Bustle. "[I]t’s more like the lens that you perceive the world through and it’s the filter that your personality has to go through as you live life and express yourself." That all said, text your parents to get your birth time, check that rising sign, and start diving deep into your birth chart for even more astro guidance.