Synonym: rising sign
The point of the zodiac rising on the Eastern horizon at any given moment. The term comes from the Latin ascendere (to ascend). The usual abbreviation is Asc, in Europe also AC. The term used for the opposite point is the Descendant.
The Ascendant is the point of intersection between the Eastern horizon and the ecliptic. Due to the rotation of the Earth around its own axis this means that, viewed from any given location, roughly every two hours a different sign of the zodiac ascends on the Eastern horizon. This causes the Ascendant to traverse the whole of the zodiac during the course of a day. Two individuals born at the same time but at a great distance from each other would have different signs on the Ascendant.
The Ascendant is a very personal factor in the horoscope. Its position in a particular sign and any planetary aspects to it give it a unique character.
It stands for the individual's start in life and the energies which influenced this particular moment in time. The Ascendant is considered to indicate the direction of the individual's path in life and the soul's intention. In addition it shows how an individual interacts with his surroundings, how he presents himself and how he is perceived by others. The Latin word Persona, meaning mask, is a fitting term - i.e. the face one shows the world.
The German astrologer Denzinger wrote the following about the difference between the Ascendant and the planets:
"It (the Ascendant) is often treated as an appendage to the Sun, as a kind of complementary factor to which we attribute those characteristics we associate with an individual that just doesn't seem to fit with the Sun sign... But one thing is certain: The Ascendant doesn't share many similarities with the Sun, Moon and the other planets. To start with, the cosmic symbolism is completely different. The Sun, Moon and the other planets are physical bodies in dynamic orbit around a common centre... they correspond to particular qualities to which we have access on our life's journey – the Ascendant gives us the spiritual-mental orientation we need when following our chosen path. The difference is similar to that between a vehicle (planet) and a road sign (Ascendant). Although totally different, the road sign can help a vehicle to reach its destination without losing track or making large detours."
The Ascendant is the sign that marks the beginning of the first house which is associated with the zodiac sign of Aries.
Notes and References
- Wolfgang J. Denzinger: Die Entfaltung des Aszendenten, Freiburg 1996, p. 25f. (German)