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Hey Baby! What's Your Sign

The Ascendant and Other Things

Question: "Hey Dr Z... my Zodiac Sign is located in the sign of Cancer. So why don't the typical descriptions of my Zodiac Sun Sign totally fit me?"

Answer: To take a stab at attempting to answer this million dollar question, let's take a trip back in time and space...

Imagine that you're a top secret government agent. And as a top secret government agent, you've just received an assignment to travel back in time and space via a top secret government time machine... and upon entering this top secret government time machine, you're whisked back to ancient Athens, Greece...

Toga Party
Upon your arrival in ancient Athens, imagine that you then find yourself wearing a toga and sandals – and you realize you must have landed at one of those wild Greek Dionysian toga parties.

As a top secret undercover agent, you then manage to engage yourself in conversation with a group of the locals discussing politics, while trying your very best not to blow your cover.

After getting more than an earful of the latest Parthenon gossip, you notice a handsome guy (or gorgeous gal) who appears to be nonchalantly strolling over to the darkened corner of the room where you're standing. The handsome Greek guy (or gorgeous gal) walks up to you and asks the age old "Greek Toga Party Pick Up" line: "Hey baby! What's your sign?"

Careful now! Watch out! Chances are you're just about to totally blow your secret agent cover by giving him/her the wrong answer!

What's Your Sign?
These days, when someone asks the question: "What's your sign?..." that person is asking you (whether they know it or not) for the Tropical Zodiac sign the Sun was passing through on the day you were born. But you see… it's only been during the last 100 years (or so) that folks started primarily identifying their Zodiac sign with the birth position of the Sun.

Sign on the Ascendant
More than likely, that handsome Greek guy (or gorgeous gal) at the wild Greek Dionysian toga party was asking you for the Zodiac sign that is located on your "Ascendant." He/she was asking for the Zodiac sign that was rising on the horizon at the exact moment (and dawn) of your birth.

You see... in ancient Greek astrology, the term "horoskopos" literally meant "look to the hour [of birth]." The zodiacal sign of the Ascendant was considered to be of the greatest import.

The Zodiac Sun Sign and Sun Sign Astrology only gained popularity during the last 100 years, due (much in part) to one's Zodiac Sun Sign being much easier to determine than the Zodiac Sign located on your Ascendant.

To accurately calculate the position of the birth Sun, one usually only needs to know the day and month of birth. Whereas... when accurately calculating the Ascendant, one must also know the exact hour and minute of birth... and not everyone knows their hour and minute of birth.

Top Three Points
The top three most important points on the birth chart are:

  • The Sun (Fast): travels through all 12 Zodiac signs during the course of a year (approximately).
  • The Moon (Faster): travels through all 12 Zodiac signs during the course of a month (approximately).
  • and The Ascendant (Fastest): travels through all 12 Zodiac signs during the course of a 24 hour day.

So what does the Ascendant Zodiac Sign represent?

The Ascendant and Back To The Greeks
In a nutshell, the Zodiac sign on the Ascendant represents the "outer package" or "image" that you regularly display to the people around you. The Zodiac sign located on the Ascendant has historically been thought of as a much more personal point than the Zodiac sign the Sun is located in.

The Ascendant aids us in answering the question: "who am I in this world?" The Ascendant acts as an "I am filter" through which we process all of our life experiences...

In part... the Ascendant acts as a protective mask... yet it's much more than simply a mask in the "modern" sense of the word.

Rather than being a disguise... the Ascendant instead reflects how we allow (albeit unconsciously) the world at large to "see" us... it reflects our outward behaviors and personality that people first see when getting to know us.

Two-Fold Purpose of the Ascendant Mask
During the Golden Age of Greek drama (circa 400 BC), the massive theaters honoring Dionysos typically had seating for as many as 14,000 spectators.

So the actors were a long distance away from the nose bleed sections of their expectant audience.

1) So a distinctive mask and costume was constructed and designed for each individual character in a particular play. Along with a full head exaggerated mask, they also wore thick boots and gloves in order to add to their height and exaggerate their hands movements so they could easily been seen by the spectators.

Thus... the various characters in each play were easily identifiable and distinguishable via their unique theatrical masks (even up in the nose bleed section).

2) Just as importantly... along with the theaters, themselves, having extraordinarily sophisticated acoustics - it's also believed that the acoustical design of the Greek mask served to greatly amplify and enhance the actor's voice, making the dialogue much easier for the massive audience to hear.

On our own personal "hero's journey," the Ascendant takes on the very nature of "the quest." The Ascendant sets the "stage" of our story. And the Ascendant is "the Guide" on our personal Quest!

The Ascendant (like the ancient Greek drama mask) helps to identify and amplify to our at large audience who we are and what we're about.

The Ascendant (the speediest major point on the birth chart) changes its Zodiac positioning every two hours (or so) - whereas, the Sun changes Zodiacal signs only once a month. Your birth Sun may be located in the Zodiac sign of Cancer, but your birth Ascendant might well be in Gemini. And to further complicate things, your birth Moon might be in yet another sign such as Leo. So far, we've barely skimmed the surface of a typical birth chart – and we've already got major energy emphases going on in three different Zodiac signs.

Birth Charts
Our birth charts are special "sky maps" that reflect (mirror back) the quality of the exact moment we drew our first breath. And with that first breath, we each began our own incredible hero's journey through life on planet Earth...

The birth positions of the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all play their own unique symbolic roles as messengers and ambassadors of the universe... In fact - there are two luminaries (the Sun and the Moon), eight planets, twelve signs, twelve houses (and much more) which go into making up our unique birth charts...

Energy Ownership of the Sun
And the deal is that a great many folks do seemingly end up choosing to primarily identify with and take ownership of their Sun's energies. However, other folks end up primarily identifying with and taking ownership of their Moon's energies... and then other folks end up identifying more with their Ascendant's energies.

So now, knowing just this much... how could anyone expect a simple Sun Sign description of Cancer to totally fit them?

And by the way, when giving birth chart readings, I encourage folks to "give voice" and expression to all the many differing (often conflicting) Zodiacal energies contained within their birth chart.

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