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Why Your Rising Sign Matters In Astrology + A Breakdown All Of 12

Woman stands against a glacial lake and mountains in Norway
Image by mbg creative x Sky-Blue Creative / Stocksy
October 20, 2022

If you're at all privy to the world of astrology, you likely know your sun sign isn't the only one to pay attention to. And in fact, some argue your rising sign is just as important as your sun sign—with others saying it's actually even more important.

Here's what to know about rising signs, how to find yours, plus what each of the 12 signs says about your personality and the way you are perceived.

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What actually is a rising sign?

Your rising sign, also known as your "ascendant," is the zodiac sign that was rising over the eastern horizon when you were born, the AstroTwins previously wrote for mbg.

Where your sun sign relates to the position of the sun relative to the astrological year (i.e., Libra season or Taurus season), your rising sign relates to the position of the sun relative to the time of day. (The sun travels through each sign every day.)

"If people always peg you for a sign other than your own, don't be surprised to discover that it's actually your rising sign," the twins say.

Why does it matter?

Your rising sign reveals how you interact with the world, from your appearance to your attitude to the first impressions you make on others, the twins note. For example, they add, a Capricorn sun with a Leo rising will likely exhibit Leo-like traits you wouldn't expect from typical Capricorn energy, or even look more like a Leo.

Your rising sign also determines where your first house of identity falls in your chart (your ascendant is always your first house), which sets the stage for the rest of the houses in your chart.

As the twins explain, "The zodiac wheel begins with the first house, which represents where the sun was rising over the eastern horizon at your moment of birth and governs the self, the identity, and your first impression. The houses then move counterclockwise around the zodiacal wheel and ripple out to broader themes of family/home life, society, and beyond."

Without knowing your rising sign, then, the rest of your birth chart will ultimately remain a mystery because houses in astrology are just as important as the planets and signs when it comes to fully understanding chart placements and aspects.

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How to find your rising sign.

Right off the bat—yes, you do need to know your exact time of birth to accurately determine your rising sign. According to the AstroTwins, the rising sign changes every two hours throughout the day, so even if you're only a few minutes off, there's a chance you could get the wrong information.

Once you know what time you were born, you input your birth date, birth time, and birth location into a chart calculator (such as the twins'), and your rising sign will be revealed.

Don't know what time you were born? Double-check your birth certificate, and if you don't know where yours is or your birth time isn't listed, the twins suggest writing to the Office of Vital Records in your birth state for a copy (if you're in the U.S., that is).

Now without further ado, here's what to know about every rising sign.

Aries rising

Aries is the first sign of the astrological year and is a fire sign ruled by the planet Mars. Aries actually rules the first house to begin with, so having an Aries rising is like a double dose of Aries energy. This cardinal sign, symbolized by the ram, is known for being brash, passionate, energetic, and bold.

As an Aries rising, people likely see you as excitable, fun, brave, and even a bit reckless. You can even come off as intimidating or immature, as you may have somewhat of a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude about you.

And in terms of your appearance, Aries risings are known to have athletic builds, childlike faces, square jaws, and distinct facial features.

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Taurus rising

If you're a Taurus rising, you're naturally going to give off the earthy, grounded, laid-back energy of Taurus. This fixed earth sign, ruled by the planet Venus, is known for being sensual, strong, and potentially stubborn and is symbolized by the bull.

With Venus as your chart ruler, it's likely you may be very attractive to others, with Taurus risings often having dark features and thick and/or curly hair. And that beauty translates to the things you like as well, whether it's interior design, food, clothing, or anything earthly and material. Overall, Taurus risings come off as solid and dependable.

Gemini rising

Gemini is known to have the gift of gab, and Gemini risings are no exception. This mutable air sign ruled by Mercury loves to dissect, analyze, collect data, and share that information with others, so they can come off as very intelligent, knowledgeable, and even humorous, if not a bit loquacious.

This sign is also symbolized by the twins, representing Gemini's dual nature, which allows them to be adaptable and ever-changing, but this can sometimes come off as fickle, flighty, or two-faced to people who don't get it. You can spot a Gemini rising by their expressive, animated communication style, along with their face shape, which is typically elongated.

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Cancer rising

Cancer risings are very likely to be the ultimate homebodies, as a water sign ruled by the moon. These folks are very in touch with their emotions, so much so that they can get swept up in them. In fact, with the moon as the chart ruler (and the moon cycling through the zodiac signs relatively quickly) a Cancer rising's mood is subject to change—and quickly.

A cardinal sign symbolized by the crab, Cancer risings often give off a very nurturing vibe. Some even say Cancer is the "mother sign" of the zodiac, and you may find this in their sensitive dispositions. Their faces often even mimic these sensitivities, through round, soft, and somehow comforting features. But don't be fooled, Cancer risings also have the capacity to get in your head because they're so sensitive to others' emotions.

Leo rising

Leo is quite the showy sign to begin with, so a Leo rising will likely not be difficult to spot. A fixed fire sign ruled by the sun, Leo risings have a noble, dignified, and proud demeanor, holding themselves with much confidence and importance. As you may have guessed, they have no problem being in the spotlight either.

This sign is symbolized by the lion, after all—the king of the jungle! And that's exactly the kind of attitude you can expect from a Leo rising. The lionlike qualities can translate to appearance as well, whether it's a thick mane of hair or a generally regal appearance.

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Virgo rising

The other Mercury-ruled sign along with Gemini is Virgo, which is a mutable earth sign symbolized by the Virgin. In the same way that Virgo is associated with things like health, service, and precision, Virgo risings give off a very clean, refined, and elegant vibe.

To others, they might seem particularly organized, and even critical—but it's always because Virgo energy just wants to make things the best they can be. Not everyone will appreciate a Virgo rising's eye for improvement, but you can be sure this placement only really wants to help. And as far as what they look like, they may opt for an intellectual, almost preppy look, and often have subtle and soft features.

Libra rising

The other sign ruled by Venus, along with Taurus, is Libra. And just like Taurus risings, Libra risings are also known to be quite beautiful, thanks to their chart ruler. As a cardinal air sign symbolized by the scales, Libra risings prerogative is typically to keep the peace—balance the scales, if you will.

Libra risings are also known for being graceful, flirtatious, and even indecisive (thanks to all that air). People often find them charming, friendly, and easy to get along with, and just like Taurus, the Venusian energy of Libra makes Libra risings particularly tasteful in terms of their style, hair, décor, makeup, etc.

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Scorpio rising

Your typical Scorpio rising will likely have an air of mystery to them, as a fixed water sign ruled by Pluto (the planet of death, sex, and the occult). Symbolized by the scorpion, this sign is known to keep its guard up, and you'll probably find that in a Scorpio rising.

While they can be difficult to open up, once they do, Scorpio risings are committed, loyal, and sensitive to others' emotions. They may come off as too intense to the wrong person; meanwhile, others will be inexplicably attracted to their brooding energy.

And if you want to spot one, look for dark features, a serious expression, and the telltale, piercing Scorpio stare.

Sagittarius rising

If you're looking for a travel partner, look no further than a Sagittarius rising. This mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter is best known for its sense of freedom, expansion, and adventure, and this energy comes across when interacting with Sag risings. While they may not be the most tactful people you've ever met, you can at least trust they'll give it to you straight—and usually in a cheerful way.

In terms of their appearance, Sag risings can be spotted by their open, expressive faces, inviting smiles, and optimistic attitude. They'll probably also be game to change plans or switch gears at the drop of a hat, and have a lot of energy for various activities. And because their chart ruler is the planet of luck—you guessed it—Sag risings are a lucky bunch.

Capricorn rising

If you want to spot a Capricorn rising, look for the person in the room working the hardest and wearing a practical outfit to match. This no-frills placement is a reflection of Capricorn energy, which is characterized by cardinal earth, symbolized by the sea goat, and ruled by Saturn, the planet of discipline, structure, and limitation.

While having a Capricorn rising isn't the easiest placement, it makes for an incredibly strong and solid person who likely comes off as responsible, mature, and intelligent. While they may push themselves (and potentially others) really hard on the road to success, it's because they know how to get there.

Capricorn risings often have small but defined facial features and are known to have dark, straight hair.

Aquarius rising

Aquarius is easily the most "out-of-this-world" sign, embodying fixed air and ruled by Uranus, the planet of radical change, innovation, and revolution. As such, Aquarius risings are probably going to be the quirkiest people in the room, with a strong sense of individuality.

When you meet an Aquarius rising, they may seem a bit cold, aloof, and even neurotic on the surface, but crack them open a bit and you'll find they're actually deeply concerned with humanity, very intelligent, and simply revel in their uniqueness.

Along with having an eccentric sense of style, they're also known to have relatively larger foreheads and eyes.

Pisces rising

Finally, we have Pisces risings, which are a dreamy, sweet, and soulful bunch. A water sign ruled by Neptune (the planet of dreams and psychic awareness but also illusion), Pisces risings are typically characterized as daydreamers who are emotional and potentially a bit naive.

This is a sign symbolized by fish, which notably have no protection (unlike Cancer's crab or Scorpio's scorpion), which is a good metaphor to explain the way Pisces risings swim in their emotional depths with no safety net. This makes them very compassionate, but sometimes too much compassion can leave them vulnerable.

Spot them by looking for soulful, round eyes, a graceful demeanor, and an overall ethereal vibe.

The takeaway.

If you only know about your sun sign, you're missing a big piece of the zodiac puzzle! Get to know your rising sign and how its placement influences the rest of your birth chart for a greater understanding of your entire astrological makeup.