A Guide to Rising Signs: What They Mean and How to Find Yours

A Guide to Rising Signs: What They Mean and How to Find Yours

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If you’re a casual participant in the world of astrology, chances are you only know your sun sign, i.e. the zodiac sign you’d read for your daily horoscope. But learning about your “big three” (your sun sign, moon sign, and rising sign) can be a game-changer, according to Tali Edut, one half of The AstroTwins, ELLE’s resident astrologers. “You may be shocked to discover that your moon and rising are totally different than your sun sign,” she explains. Once you learn them all, “you have more dials to play with when you’re sharing yourself with people,” she says. But what is your rising sign exactly? Let Edut get you up to speed (get it?), below.

What is a rising sign?

the astrological sky with the eastern horizon highlighted in yellow
Getty + Leah Romero

According to Edut, your rising sign—also called your ascendant sign—is essentially your “cosmic PR agent.” It’s how you project yourself to the outside world—your body, your style, and your image—and how you come across to other people. “How do you act when you’re in a room with other people? When you’re out and about, what’s the shield you put up?”

As for which rising signs are the easiest to spot, Edut notes that Leo risings will let you know they want you to pay attention to them. “They want to be the funniest person in the room,” she says. “They’re very playful, but they can be demanding too.” Edut says the rising sign is also connected to the body, so people can sometimes have physical characteristics related to their sign. “I can often tell a Virgo rising, because they have what I call angel hair, the ringlet-y curls,” she says. “Scorpio rising, I can always tell. They just exude that sexiness; they often have bedroom eyes.” (Prince was a Scorpio rising, she notes, whereas David Bowie was an Aquarius rising.) “If someone walks in with insane and awesome outfits, they may be an Aquarius rising.”

How can you calculate your rising sign?

You can figure out your rising sign by using the AstroTwins’ free birth chart calculator. You just need to know your time of birth, date of birth, and place of birth to obtain your chart. This is especially important for rising signs, since they change every two hours.

“If you look at the zodiac birth chart, it looks like a clock,” Edut explains. “It moves like a dial every two hours, so whatever part of the sky is at the nine o’clock point [when you’re born] is your rising sign.”

This is because the nine o’clock point represents the eastern horizon, i.e. where the sun rises. “It’s like the dawning of you,” Edut says. “What is that first impression you put out to the world? What is the first thing people notice? What do you want to be noticed for?”

How your rising, sun, and moon sign all work together

If you’ve ever heard someone mention your astrological “big three,” they’re talking about your sun, moon, and rising signs—the three most referenced signs in a birth chart. “They’re a great place to start,” Edut says, since they represent your “most immediate parts” and describe who you are at your core (sun sign), how other people see you (rising sign), and how you really feel about that (moon sign).

In particular, Edut describes the rising sign like this: If your sun sign makes you blue, your rising sign is like your filter, tinting you powder or navy blue. “[Rising and moon signs are] really nice companions to the sun sign, but don’t stop there,” Edut says. “Definitely do the full chart, because Mercury rules our communication, Venus and Mars are love and sex. Each planet plays a really unique role, and as you learn more about astrology, the angles between all the planets and the way they’re all talking to each other—there’s a cosmic chorus going on there.”

Rising signs by element

Earth: Capricorn, Virgo, Taurus

Earth rising signs (hi, I’m the problem, it’s me) care about status, Edut says, and want to be seen as capable, trustworthy, and elite. “Not in an ostentatious way at all,” she clarifies. “They just really want to make sure you know that they have their shit together. It’s about achievement and status and being seen as dependable.”

Fire: Leo, Sagittarius, Aries

“They want you to know they’re daredevils,” Edut says. “They want to excite and thrill you, entertain you.” These are the show-offs, the leaders, the people who are going to be on the cutting edge. “Putting themselves out there in a way that demands and commands, where you bow down to their badassery.”

Water: Pisces, Scorpio, Cancer

Water rising signs, on the other hand, don’t always have the best concept of self, Edut says. “They’re the ones who have resting bitch face. They emote without control sometimes. They’ll scowl. They’ll weep openly in places where everyone else has decorum.” In essence, water rising signs can be emotional sponges, for better or worse. “They’re people you feel you can cry around. They can give off a very nurturing vibe when they want to, but if they are hurt, they will ice you out.”

Air: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra

Edut finds air risings easy to spot, because they’re the talkative ones. “They’re very chatty, buzzy,” she says. “They’re storytellers, and they’re going to unload everything on you, and they don’t care. It’s like, TMI alert, here comes the air sign rising.”

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