So, she tells you that she’s Virgo sun with a Pisces moon and Sagittarius rising. What’s she telling you? Maybe you know about sun signs, but what about moon signs? And what’s the Ascendant got to do with it?



So, you probably know about sun signs. That the sun moves through the twelve astrological signs over the period of a year. To put it more accurately, from the earth’s point of view, the sun appears to move against a background of stars as the earth orbits. And since ancient times, this background has been divided into twelve constellations, the twelve signs of the zodiac.

The sun is the only light in our solar system. The lights of all the other planets and moons are reflections of the light of the sun. Symbolically light is consciousness. If we’re ‘in the dark’ about something we don’t know anything about it, we are not aware of it. Only when we ‘throw a light’ on it do we know anything. So, the position of the sun in the twelve signs of the zodiac represents our consciousness as individuals.

In addition, the position of the sun in the sky changes according to the time of day, that is to say according to the turning of the earth. In addition to the position of the sun against the background of stars, we look at the position of the sun in relation to the earth’s horizon. Is it day or night? Sun rise, or sun set, midday or midnight?  In fact, astrologers divide the sky into 12 divisions called houses, each with a different focus on life on earth.

So, the sun’s position is both a clock and a calendar. It tells us the time of day and the time of year. For example, if the sun is in Capricorn when someone is born, we know that they were born between December 21st and January 19th of any particular year. And if the sun is at its highest position in the sky, at the top of the chart, we know they were born at midday.

The ‘clock position’ or ‘house’ of the sun tells us the area of life where consciousness is focused. While the zodiac position or sign tells us more the character of consciousness. For example, someone could be born with the sun in Aries in the third house. This house represents thinking and communication and having the sun in fast-moving Aries there, we would expect the person to be quick thinking, and good at argument and debate. This would be great for someone wanting to go into law or politics, but maybe not so good for a therapist where listening skills are more important.



Then there’s the moon, the nearest body to our planet. Its light changes with its position relative to the sun and the earth, as does its gravitational pull. The moon has no light of its own. It merely reflects the light of the sun. The cycle of the moon around the earth affects the ocean’s tides and the movement of sea creatures. It also resonates with women’s menstrual cycle. Science has no explanation for this. But this connection has been known for millennia, symbolically connecting the moon with fertility and motherhood.

When we are born, we are still in the mother’s sphere of influence. Our life is about our needs and our mother (or the person doing the mothering) is the one who is there to meet our needs. Need is not something conscious.  For example, a fractious, irritable child is probably not aware that they need to rest. It is only later in life that consciousness develops, and we understand our needs. In this way we can see life as the process of becoming conscious. It is a journey from the moon’s sphere of influence to the sun’s. Need is something we are born with; consciousness is something that develops.

So, someone born when the moon was in Aries and the Sun was in Cancer would have the Aries pattern of quick response to their needs and the needs of others, and through their life they would develop their Cancerian consciousness focused on caring, nurturing and protection.

Becoming conscious of our needs and unconscious habits and patterns is a journey from the lunar to solar. This may be a difficult process that requires lots of life challenges to bring these patterns into the light as we grow and become more self-aware. For others, it may be relatively easy. Or it may be something we need help with. We bring people into our life or form relationships with those who can teach us what it means to be our sun sign with its particular solar consciousness.

How easy or difficult this process is depends on the connection between the sun and the moon. Specifically, the angle they make to each other. Is the moon conjunct the sun as at a new moon with the moon and sun both in the same sign? Is it a full moon chart with the moon in the opposite sign to the sun? Is the moon a quarter of the sky away from the sun – a waxing quarter or a waning quarter? Are the sun and moon both in the same element, i.e. both in fire signs, both in water signs etc? Lots of factors come into our analysis of the sun-moon connection. But again, this is not something fixed but rather something that evolves and develops throughout the individual’s life.



And then there’s the ascendant. This is the point that’s rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. This point will be a particular point in a particular sign of the zodiac. Hence, it’s also known as the rising sign. This point is constantly changing as the earth turns which is why an astrologer wants to know your birth time as exactly as possible. Also, they need to know your place of birth as this will also affect the rising sign.

Let’s take the example of an Aries born at 8 o’clock in the morning. But on that day, in that location, the sun rose at 5:30. If they’d been born at sunrise, they would be an Aries with Aries rising, a so-called double Aries. But our Aries native was born two and a half hours after sun rise and the rising sign has moved on to Gemini. So, we have someone with an Aries sun and Gemini rising.

As we said, the sun sign tells us about a person’s consciousness, it also represents their energy. While their rising sign on the other hand is their physical being. In fact, someone’s physical appearance can give us a clue as to their rising sign – soft Taurean eyes, good Capricornian bone structure, Aries eyebrows, symmetrical Libran features – and that’s before we take into account any planets that may be rising.

In this way, the ascendant can be described as the lens through which the spiritual being or soul is focused into material reality or born.

For example, a Gemini with Taurus rising walks into a bar. Normally the light Geminian energy which may be noticeable through the constant expressive movement of hands and fingers and the quickness of thought is expressed through a solid Taurean body, typified by a thickish neck and soft eyes.

But let’s say on this particular day, this person is not feeling 100%. Maybe they’re getting over a cold, or a hangover or they’ve had a bad night. Their Geminian energy will be low. But their Taurean physical presence will still be strong as that is not affected by their level of energy.

There’s a question lurking. Is it better to be born at sunrise when the sun sign and rising sign are the same? Well, certainly it will give you a real double dose of that particular sign which may give a really strong focus on a particular ability but it may give a lack of perspective. This perspective would have to come from balancing factors in the chart. To have the moon in a different sign from the sun and ascendant would give another point of view. But we are all different and as I mentioned, sometimes we need other people to help us balance who we are.


So back to the woman we met at the beginning of this piece. We know she’s a Virgo, that is to say she was born with the sun in Virgo. This tells us not only the time of year she was born, but also the type of consciousness she has. We know her moon is in Pisces, the opposite sign to Virgo which tells us she was born at the full moon. For an astrologer her Pisces moon suggests that she is very sensitive to her environment (as a fish is sensitive to changes in the water) and that she has had to grow towards her Virgo sun in order to learn to discriminate and develop stronger boundaries to know what is right for her and what isn’t. Then with her ascendant in Sagittarius she would be athletic and with the tough angle from her ascendant to both her moon in Pisces and her sun in Virgo that people would not be expecting her sensitivity and her analytical mind. Plus, this ascendant places the Virgo sun at the top of the chart suggesting that  she finds fulfilment in activities that take her out into the world where she can shine, while her Pisces moon at the bottom of the chart means that her sensitivity could require plenty of down time for her to unfrazzle herself and decompress.


Finally, for those of you who suffer from TLDR syndrome (too long, didn’t read). Here’s your executive summary.

  1. The sun sign relates to the time of year.
  2. The moon sign and phase of the moon relate to the time of the month.
  3. The sign of the ascendant depends on the time of day and the location on earth.
  4. The moon sign represents unconscious need and instinct. The sun sign represents consciousness.
  5. As we grow and mature, we grow into our sun sign – we become more conscious of our unconscious habits and patterns and by becoming conscious of them, we are no longer bound to them and can moderate them.
  6. The ascendant represents physical presence. The sun represents personal energy.
  7. When we know a person’s sun sign, moon sign and rising sign we have the basic structure of their chart.
  8. And then there are the other planets …

Ben Belinsky

June 2024

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