It was Imbolic this past week, which is the traditional holiday that marks the midway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.
Today, we celebrate this holiday by checking whether a groundhog sees a shadow, but in many traditional cultures, Imbolic marked a time to look at what was on the horizon for the year. Imbolic marks the very early stages of spring and the very late stages of winter, a time when the seeds we want to sprout this year must be planted.
As a holiday about looking toward the horizon, Imbolic is the perfect holiday to reflect on your ascendent--the sign in your chart that was on your horizon at birth.
Some of the most-often asked questions of me as an astrologer are: what is an ascendent? What does it mean when someone says “Scorpio rising”? WHY do you want to know what time and place I was born in order to do my chart?
All of these questions point to your ascendent or rising sign.
Your ascendent is, quite simply, the sign that lay on the horizon when you were born, at the location of your birth. It was ascending or rising into the sky (hence the name).
The ascendent rules the first house (and sets the scene for all houses in your zodiac chart—the houses look like pieces of pie in a circular chart and indicate life areas and experiences). The ascendent rules the first house which is synonymous with how YOU experience YOURSELF.
Your experience of yourself tempers your experience of every moment of your life. This is why the ascendent is so important: it filters each experience you have over time. That’s right, every single thing.
Many astrology systems view the ascendent as even more essential to our experiences than our sun sign. For example, if you asked someone in Ancient Greece what their sign was, they’d name their ascendent! (Rather than their sun sign.) This is HUGE, and part of the reason I chose to use my ascendent’s symbol (Cancer) in my logo.
Each ascendent has a different way of experiencing themselves and reality.
This cardinal fire sign experiences reality in terms of forward movement, and self-motivation that is sparked by personal inspiration.
This fixed earth sign experiences reality in terms of what is tangible and possessed by the self, including the self’s emotions, possessions, ideas, etc.
This mutable air sign experiences realty in terms of mental association with the self and others. At times, it may be a comparative reality.
This cardinal water sign experiences reality in terms of emotional nurturing, creating a safe environment for themselves and their associates.
This fixed fire sign experiences reality in terms of self-expression. Experiences of the self rise up organically.
This mutable earth sign experiences reality in terms of sorting the tangible and the moral into categories of right and wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
This cardinal air sign experiences reality in terms of mental balance, fairness, and justice. Seeking to find the balance between the extremities of thought.
This fixed water sign experiences reality in terms of passion, which wells up emotionally.
This mutable fire sign experiences reality in terms of incorporating the ultimate truth of reality in everyday experiences.
This cardinal earth sign experiences reality in terms of achievement, growth, and upward momentum in the physical realm.
This fixed air sign experiences reality in terms of mental focus and the creation of freedom.
This mutable water sign experiences reality in terms of emotional relatedness.