The sun, moon, and ascendant (rising sign) are the primary astrological forces, though planets also play a role. Most people know their sun signs, but few know their ascendants or their other planetary signs.
The sun sign provides information about basic character and a framework for the rest of the natal zodiac. However, other elements such as the rising sign (also known as the ascendant) and moon sign affect the way the sun sign is expressed.
The Rising Sign (Ascendant)
The rising sign determines the outward expression of personality, or the way in which a person interacts with the external world. It can be described as the public persona or mask. It also indicates how an individual is likely to be perceived by others (how he or she comes across socially).
When the sun and ascendant are in the same or similar signs, a person behaves in a way that is consistent with his or her inner character. When the rising sign is very different from the sun sign, the individual is likely to be pulled in competing directions or to send out signals that don’t match inner feelings, which increases the likelihood of being misunderstood by others. While such conflicts can make life difficult, they are also a source of creativity and a spur to achievement.
The moon sign is the private persona, only likely to be seen in adulthood by those very close to the person. The moon rules over childhood, and people are more likely to express their moon sign personalities when they are young. In adulthood, the moon’s influence is usually hidden, relegated to the secret emotional life, though an individual may openly express the moon sign persona in times of stress or other emotional extremes.
The moon also represents the mother and other female forces in a person’s life. The placement of the moon in a natal chart can indicate the types of relationships and interactions a person is likely to have with women.
Other planets also play a role in shaping the qualities that make up an individual. Each of the planets has a particular sphere of influence, and its effects will be determined by the sign in which the planet falls and the aspects it makes to other planets:
Mercury: all forms of mental activity and communication including speaking and writing, the intellect, intelligence, reason, perception, memory, understanding, assimilation of information, and critical thinking
Venus: love, affection, pleasure, beauty, sex appeal, art, romantic affairs, adornment, social graces, harmony, and friendship
Jupiter: luck and fortune, optimism, generosity, expansiveness, success, higher education, law, medicine, philosophy, abundance, and spirituality
Saturn: hard work, responsibility, character, strength of will, endurance, hard karma, difficulties, obstacles, hardship, the ability to see a task through to completion, authority, diligence, limitations, self-control, stability, patience, maturity, restriction, and realism
Uranus: progressiveness, change, originality, invention, innovation, technology, science, rebellion, revolution, sudden events and opportunities, awakenings, shocks, flashes of genius, eccentricity, unconventionality, unusual circumstances or events, independence, visionary ideas, and occult interests
Neptune: imagination, intuition, mysticism, dreams, fantasies, compassion, psychic abilities, visions, spirituality, strange events, the subconscious, repressed memories, glamour, mystery, insanity, drama, addiction, ideals, inspiration, transcendence, artistic sensibilities, and creative genius
Pluto: power, transformation, release of dormant forces, change, the depths of the subconscious, suppressed energies, death, rebirth, regeneration, sex, jealousy, passion, obsession, intensity, creation and destruction, beginnings and endings that occur simultaneously (one thing ending so that another can begin), secrets, mystery, undercurrents, precognition, personal magnetism, and extremes of personality
How to Find Your Moon, Ascendant, and Planetary Placements
Astrodienst offers free chart calculation and some free interpretation. The chart tells you which sign each of your natal planets falls in, as well as your rising sign.
To read moon sign profiles for each sign, as well as personality and romantic compatibility profiles for all the sun signs, visit the main Astrology page. To get an astrology chart, see the Astrology Charts page.