Astrology Basics – Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Signs


Astrology is a big field, so big even the most experienced and renowned astrologers still have plenty to learn. And, the more we discover about our solar system and the galaxy, the more we have to integrate and evolve in our practice. So, if you want to know more, where do you start? Most of us agree the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs are a good place to begin exploring. Keep in mind that nothing operates in a vacuum and that includes the parts of our birth charts. What I mean, for example, is that the Sun isn’t operating by itself. Even if you look at your Sun sign on its own, your energy is more of overall alchemy or synergy. It helps to remember the parts never add up to the whole – in this case, the individual planets and angles in the chart don’t equate to the whole person. The bottom line is that while astrology reveals many things about you, it doesn’t tell you who you are. That mystery lies beyond. But, there’s a lot we can learn from the parts and now we’ll dive right into astrology basics – your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs.

Your Sun Sign

The Sun is the planet (technically a star) of purpose, vitality, and creation. From our perspective on Earth, it looks like the Sun moves around us, spending one month of the year in each sign. Your Sun sign is the zodiac sign the Sun was in the moment you were born. The sign your Sun is in reflects the special way you’re meant to shine in the world. Just as the Sun is the center of our solar system, the Sun in your birth chart is the core nature of your spirit or essence that infuses all of you, and life around you, with its energy. Your Sun sign shows what gets and keeps you charged up and what can run your battery down. It also represents courage and pride in yourself, which is necessary to actualize your potential. The Sun is associated with the daytime, consciousness, and what’s rational and visible.

Everything has a light and dark side, and shadow Sun can show up as self-absorption, arrogance, drama, taking things too personally, trying to outshine everyone, stealing the spotlight, being overly attached to attention and applause, and simply selfish. The Tarot card correspondence is The Sun, Major Arcana XIX. This is the card of CO-creation, and inner divinity expressed through humanity.

Your Moon Sign

The Moon is the closest astronomical body to Earth, giving it strong influence over us. The Moon’s gravity pulls on Earth’s oceans, causing tides, and its movement affects our emotions, reactions, and even our bodily cycles. The external force of the Moon stabilizes Earth’s 23.5-degree axial tilt, preventing catastrophic shifts – imagine no seasons at all or rolling on our side like Uranus, with the most extreme seasons imaginable. Existence on Earth without our Moon would mean very dark nights forever.

Your Moon sign is the zodiac sign the Moon was in the moment you were born. It reflects your desire to nurture, protect, belong, and connect with your roots. It’s also your mystery and the way you get hunches and feelings in your bones. While the Sun is the light you radiate outward, the Moon is your inner light and inner life – it shines in the dark. The sign your Moon is in reflects your emotional nature, natural instincts, reactions, habits, memories, ancestry, early home environment, and what makes you feel comfortable and safe.   

Shadow Moon can show up as needy, mothering or caretaking without healthy boundaries, smothering, hypersensitive, defensive, overly protective, highly irrational, emotionally immature, unstable, and insecure. The Tarot card correspondence is The High Priestess, Major Arcana II. This archetype teaches us to explore our subconscious lunar landscape to receive our deepest sense of self and inner wisdom.

Your Rising Sign

Your Rising sign, or Ascendant, is the zodiac sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the moment you were born. To create an accurate birth chart, you need your exact birth time (hour and minute) because the Rising sign is fast-moving (yes – a minute can make a difference). You chose an exact moment to be born, and the birth chart is a cosmic reflection of you – a mirror for self-discovery. Your Rising sign is a big part of who you’re discovering yourself to be in this lifetime. 

Your Rising sign reflects the way you spontaneously approach life – how you show up and the first impression you make on others. A person’s Rising sign and its associated qualities are often noticed first upon meeting or interacting, and these qualities and style are difficult to hide. Your Rising sign is instinctual but not refined. It’s like you’re wired with that sign’s raw energy, but to make it really work for you takes conscious development. The energy of your Rising sign is how you can best meet each moment as you move through life.

The 12 Signs

Now that you know more about what the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs are, you can begin synthesizing them with the actual signs yours are in. Below is a brief summary of the twelve signs, but know that every sign is a universe unto itself, and learning about them can be a lifelong journey.

Aries: The first sign of the zodiac, the pioneer and initiator. Aries is known for its direct and forceful approach. Aries is about action and doesn’t want to sit still. This sign gets things going with a fiery punch. Some of the best Arien qualities are courage, independence, leadership, strength, instinct, and high energy. 

Taurus: The earth goddess who creates stability, comfort, and beauty. Taurus is grounded, practical, and resourceful. This sign knows how to enjoy the sensual pleasures of life and doesn’t like things too messy or complicated. Some of the best Taurean qualities are determination, loyalty, and manifestation of abundance.

Gemini: The eternal youth who loves to learn. Gemini is curious, witty, and good at finding and sharing information. This air sign likes variety and intellectual stimulation and usually loves to talk. Some of the best Geminian qualities are high intelligence, adaptability, cleverness, and sociability.

Cancer: The moon goddess of the zodiac. Cancer is caring, nurturing, and intuitive.  This water sign has a protective outer shell, but on the inside, it’s soft and sensitive. Cancers have a way of making you feel seen and loved – just as you are. Some of the best Cancerian qualities are empathy, tenderness, healing, and psychic ability. 

Leo: The queen of the zodiac. Leo has one of the biggest hearts! While Leos can demand attention, they also know how to give it. This fire sign is playful, creative, expressive, and warm. Some of the best Leonine qualities are charisma, confidence, passion, leadership, and generosity.

Virgo: The one who keeps it all together. Virgo is dedicated to bettering the world and works hard to make it happen. This earth sign understands how things work, making it good at creating and improving all kinds of things – from perfecting haircuts to building houses to healing bodies. Some of the best Virgoan qualities are critical thinking, organization, patience, craftspersonship, and devotion.

Libra: The artist and peacekeeper. Libra is motivated by love, relationships, and beauty. This air sign is charming, sociable, and cooperative. Libras have an eye for symmetry and naturally bring balance to the world around them. Some of the best Libran qualities are good communication, mediation, an eye for aesthetics and design, and fair-mindedness.  

Scorpio: The powerhouse. Scorpios have the mind of a detective and love getting to the bottom of things. Their energy is intense and when they’re in something, they go all the way. This water sign transforms all that it touches. Some of the best Scorpionic qualities are magnetism, passion, intuition, and the guts to confront almost anything.

Sagittarius: The adventurer and truth seeker. Sagittarius needs to feel alive and has no problem taking a risk when it’s worth it. This fire sign pursues the greater truth and meaning. Sagittarians love travel, including physical, mental, and spiritual journeys. Some of the best Sagittarian qualities are optimism, enthusiasm, honesty, and seeing the bigger picture.

Capricorn: The builder. No sign can climb the mountain and accomplish great works the way Capricorn can. Capricorns work hard to produce results and keep their eye on the prize. This earth sign is visionary, responsible, and a great manifester. Some of the best Capricornian qualities are discipline, wisdom, leadership, and strategy.

Aquarius: The free thinker. Aquarius seeks to liberate from the past and create a better future. Aquarians simply don’t play by the rules – and that’s exactly what we love about this world-minded air sign. They bring on the change! Some of the best Aquarian qualities are innovation, objectivity, altruism, and celebration of unity in diversity.

Pisces: The dreamer. Pisces is the last sign in the zodiac and naturally mystical, with one foot in this world and one in another. This water sign is imaginative, idealistic, deeply caring, and hypersensitive. Some of the best Piscean qualities are compassion, acceptance, psychic sensitivity, and inspired creativity.

What about Cusps?

There are differing opinions on the meaning and use of cusps in astrology. When we say someone is on the cusp, we’re generally referring to a particular planet in their birth chart in the very ending or beginning degrees of a sign. If, for example, you have the Sun at 29 degrees Pisces (each sign covers 30 degrees), your Sun is on the cusp of Pisces and Aries (the imaginary line that separates the signs). Some astrologers believe planets on the cusp carry the energy of both signs because they’re in a transitional space. Others do not incorporate cusps into interpretation, as planets are technically in a single sign. This is a fun area to explore for yourself.

The MOST important part of your chart

Astrology can illuminate many things about you, but you are the most important part of your chart – your level of consciousness, how you’re working with your energy, and how you choose to experience your circumstances. Your birth chart reflects your energy, habits, needs, patterns, communication style, desires, memories, feelings, thoughts, challenges, dreams….and so much more. It’s a wonderful tool for understanding yourself and others, but it’s important to remember you’re the one creating your life. Astrology doesn’t happen to you, it is you. And when you work with it, your life and the world around you change.

To learn more about astrology and watch a free class on each sign, check out our website here.

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