The Ascendant As A Mask

Indian princess“What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else.”
–Joseph Campbell

In a birth chart the placements that move most quickly are the most personal. The Sun moves about a degree every day, through a sign in a month. The moon, moves much more quickly than that, through one sign in a few days. The slowest moving planets, the outer planets, take years to move through a sign and have a more generational effect in the chart. The placements that move most quickly, and are therefore most singular to a given chart, are the angles, changing signs in mere hours. It is the house system, led by the Ascendant, that determines the personal arenas of the outer planet placements.

The Ascendant, the sign on the first house cusp is most markedly an indicator of appearance, both physically and in how the person “seems” to be. It can be the major feature of our active persona, our social role, and when under stress it can be the mask behind which we hide.

Leo is rising in my chart and when I am out and about I am often seen as playful, dramatic and strong, whether or not that is how I am actually feeling. It is often how I am perceived. Due to my Pisces Sun I am actually a bit shy. My Capricorn Moon is reflected in my personal propensity to worry a lot. However, this is not what people see at first glance.

When I was young and faced with a daunting situation I used to consciously pretend I was someone else, a captured Princess (Leo= drama, royalty). I gave speeches, sang at public events, waited on hundreds of people at a banquet, all as kidnapped royalty. It got me through.

The Ascendant, being the first house, Aries’ house, is a placement for active participation. I am seen this way in part because that is how I act. Under stress, when I am particularly shy or worried, I put on my Leo mask and act like a Leo. Because it is my Ascendant it comes naturally. Over time it has become ingrained. I’d have a hard time pulling off the appearance of shy and retiring, though those traits are in my chart too. I am many different things but Leo is my first handshake. It may be a mask, but it is also part of me.

Where is your Ascendant? Do you wear that mask? Is it active, passive, both?



The Ascendant As A Mask — 62 Comments

  1. Yes, my Leo-Rising shines with enthusiasm when I’m around those I like and trust, while my Scorpio-Sun works like a marionette in the wings–watching, biding, sensing, feeling–and my Aries Moon is always on its toes to respond and react. I prefer the Leo because it makes me warm and sociable, but it’s not there for too long before Aries and Scorpio fight to get into the spotlight.

    • Yes! At parties if I’m nervous, I’m the gal who’s digging into some Mac n cheese or strawberries and saying “Mmmmm, I love food!”

      I don’t think I have a calm elegant earthy exterior, but maybe I do at first glance. I listen and ppl tend to tell me things and trust me with stuff, even in the first few minutes of knowing me.

      Or my Venus-Uranus kicks in and I appear as a weird-flighty-nerdy-nervous-talkative YET a complete simpleton. Taurus mask altered whee~ interesting.

  2. Leo rising, BUT Pluto conjunct the ascendant. Virgo sun in the first. A lot of my life I have played the quiet, hard-working loner. This weekend, though, I worked Leo expression. I went to a three day rock and roll camp for women and the last day we performed in front of crowd. I was lead singer, with a green mohawk made of my 62 year old gray hair. We rocked! Amazingly, I was comfortable on stage compared to when I nearly flunked speech in school because I didn’t want to speak in from of an audience.

  3. You described the leo rising very well….I also loved to be on stage when I was in school…by myself..reciting poetry, singing, playing my guitar…and most people in my social circle think of me as the fun one. But when I am in a tough spot, my Capricorn does come out or maybe it is the Leo/Capricorn mix….bossy?!!!! yeow, watch out and my feelings get hurt so easily or rather, my pride.

    This is great Satori…I love reading your posts! I don’t know my birth time and it was always right at the cusp of Leo/Virgo, but I am definitely more leo like, much more than I am Virgo….I think,

  4. Taurus Rising, so I can appear to be slow and plodding… Not so. Underneath is the Aries Sun and the Cappy Moon, both Cardinal and ready to start it up! I’m calm and very earthy, but ready to be spontaneous at the drop of a hat! Mars in Leo trine the Aries makes me a volcano, so says the hubby…

  5. I have Pluto on my Leo Ascendant, also, and here is an example of what my Scorpio sun/merc did with it; when I was 13 my choir teacher worked with me for 2 months to get me ready to sing solo at assembly; when I walked on stage on the big day, I froze. With a big mentally-challenged grin on my face, I could not move or speak until the teacher gave me permission to leave the stage; then I unfroze and ran.

  6. Scorpio rising. Shrewd, appraising, stand-offish is my mask when I am feeling weak – but it is always present, though maybe a layer or two down on my (sun)ny Leo days.

  7. Scorpio ASC (and Sun + Mars)so I am not really wearing a mask. What you see is what you get…except my Sun is in the 12th house so it is kind of peaking out behind my ASC. Maybe I can describe it as learning to be a Scorpio through Scorpio temperment…with my Sun in the 12th it’s almost like I don’t give myself permission to be exactly who I am sometimes…it might be too intense for people. So I project my Virgo/Leo Moon (10th house) more than anything I think when I meet people at first. Or sometimes my Mercury in Sag. OR my Saturn in Sag. Depends on my mood and who THEY are too.

  8. once I got so nervous during a speech that I said Edi Amin’s chief advisor was Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I got in trouble for being a smartass when I was really just terrified and “Jabbar” follows much more naturally than “Nassar.” oy.

  9. October27 and Satori

    I’m right there with you! 🙂
    Although I have leo sun, leo asc, and aries moon when I was young and had to sing in front of a whole audience my scorpio mars and my mercury Rx in virgo swooped in and my words started coming out all jumbled. Stopped midway and ran for dear life. still have huge anxiety in speaking in front of groups!

  10. Great post, Satori. Cappy Ascendant here. I appear and sound confident, capable and perhaps a bit aloof in professional situations. I’m 5’1″ and worked hard on my terrible posture when I was young. Today I walk “tall”. You’ll often see me dressed conservatively, in grays, browns and blacks. Behind the scene I like to wear my pajamas, laugh maniacally on the phone and dance to rock and roll. (Taurus Sun, Mars and Jupiter, 4th and 5th houses). The 5th house planets let me strut my stuff and add drama to my presentation when I need to be on. Capricorn Ascendant has always attracted responsibility and Chiron conjunct reflects this fact in my eyes, or so I’m told.

  11. Cancer rising here. I hide ALL THE TIME. Yet, I’m really good at public speaking and used to seek out public speaking competitions when I was a kid, and WIN! I don’t know what that was about – maybe my Jupiter & Venus conjunct MC in Aries, or my Mercury conjunct Saturn. Which is a funny kind of the reverse scenario than yours was, Satori!

    Anyway, Cancer rising, at least for me, is “hide your light under a bushel” stuff. Ah well. 😉

  12. The blog has convinced me I’ve Virgo rising. In my natural state I would certainly come across to most people as a typical Virgo – reserved, neatly put together, well-ordered, a worrier inc about my health, with a tendency to be hyper-critical and so forth.

    But I almost always start any social situation with a glass or two of white wine to tone down my anxieties and soften the sharp edges – then I can cruise or even sparkle

  13. Sagittarius ASC. Athletic AND I have a long face and great legs and haunches. Har har! I like to travel, too. I’ll go anywhere. Even a trip on the train to suburbia gets me happy.

  14. Satori, Ladies – whilst we are on the subject, as you know there are many of us on the boards who don’t have a correct birth time

    Some of us would be really grateful for a workshop on how we might work back towards that so we can get our Asc and Houses as accurate as may be – is that possible sometime?

    I think I’ve done the work myself, but I’d be interested to bounce of others in this area, and some might find a lightbulb moment as I did…

  15. I never really understood my Taurus rising… I don’t feel like a Taurus at all, but I guess that’s because it doesn’t have to do with how I feel as much as how other people perceive me. I also have Chiron conj by 1 deg, & Venus and Mars conj by 4 deg’s, all in the 12th, so I know those color the interpretation as well. I do feel the Venus energy quite a bit… I’m REALLY drawn to romance, beauty, & anything artistic and charming.

    Donna Cunningham actually had an interesting post on her blog yesterday about the ASC and 1st/12th hse relationship that explained how the sign preceeding the ASC can show hidden motives of the Rising signs. A few of her examples were:

    “Leo rising puts Cancer on the 12th. Behind the Lion’s roar may be a shy, yet crusty Crab, with pinchers to defend itself if you pry too much. Virgo’s 12th is Leo, and behind that trademark modesty can lurk a surprising amount of ego. Behind Libra’s sweetly agreeable facade can be a surprisingly hypercritical Virgo side. Behind Scorpio’s control freak demands can be a Libran yearning for unconditional love.”

    This concept would put Aries in the mix for me, which made a little more sense, but then again I also have the Mars conjunction….

    Has anyone else heard of this concept and/or noticed its’ manifestations?

  16. Another Leo rising here. Physically, quite correct. I have a youthful appearance, and a glorious mane. 😉

    However, I have Saturn in my 1st house, so my Cap sun gets to show its colors too. I can be attention seeking, but in Cap ways (look at the awesome job I did!) I like having an audience, but I just feel too crass putting on a show – unless it’s a professional presentation. 😉

  17. I never really understood how I utilized my Scorpio Asc. (which is conjunct 12th H Neptune, so no surprise there) until I got older. Now I see it very clearly. Clashes with the Leo Sun and Mars at times (hermit vs need to be Out There), but mostly I’m comfortable just sitting quietly and watching people. At other times, that Scorp Rising really complimented the Leo stellium when the situation called for it in professional settings. People usually don’t mess with me too much!

    Satori, loved this post and loved your choice of picture – such a beautiful young woman.

  18. Dang Satori… hitting the soft spot here. Being a Scorpio rising, conjunct Moon/Neptune… How the hell am I supposed to know what ‘my mask’ is? Throw in all the Pisces, and I’m not sure where ‘I’ end and ‘You’ start… Mask? I guess mine would be ‘whatever you need/want/picture’ that’s the mask you’ll get.

  19. Libra rising and Libra neptune. I am very much the Libra. I dread making decisions and weigh everything over and over. On the positive side, I truly love the Arts and Chocolate.

  20. Cap rising with Saturn-Uranus-Neptune conjunct. I can look serious, dependable, shy, vulnerable, detached, and weird and yup, it is very active. Can trace it from youth until now. It is less intense than before. :]

  21. Cap rising & come accross as cool, calm & collected, which I guess you all know by now ain’t exactly so =) I’d like to have more Cappy positive traits but all I seem to have manifested are the downers. Ho Hum…

  22. gemini rising conjuncy saturn. i am actually not sure how that plays out. maybe i am aloof. one thing i know is i am great at first impressions…but i feel i start to fail after 🙁 not sure why.

  23. I have Cancer on the ascendant and I definitely have that protective shell up when meeting new people. I was not even aware of it until somebody told me that I seem cold and unapproachable at first! I was so shocked! But once people get to know me the Leo sun shines through 🙂

  24. Scorpio rising, Aries sun conjunct Venus, Leo moon conjunct Uranus in a t-square with Merc (in Taurus) and Nep (in Scorp).

    Here goes:

    At first blush I am quiet and reticent. I don’t do alot of talking, although depending on my mood, my clothing and appearance might make a statement for me. I am very prone to wearing African clothing and tie-dye to work (I am a teacher) and I one time I had blonde and red locs that came halfway down my back. So that is the Sun and moon/Uranus. I am an individual and I do what I want. It is not until I get warmed up that the full force of my personality starts to make itself known. And that never happens in large groups, but rather in small and rather intimate settings. I can be a Rebel (seemingly) Without a Cause, but my cause is always the underdog, the unfortunate, the forgotten. And about them, I can get quite loud.

  25. I hate the whole “mask” analogy. It makes it sound like you’re deliberately faking something.

    Why not think of it as a filter that you see the world through, rather than a false front?

  26. I see your point, jenfullmoon, but the Leo mask is part of me. I’m not faking anything, just using something that is part of me. how can something that is a part of me not be me? if I use that part to the exclusion of all else, that would be negating other parts of me, but integrated, it’s just a part of the whole.

  27. im an aquarius rising with venus in my first house ..i have and will appear quite eccentric, weird, random as well as my ASC casuing my chart ruler to be Uranus, which we all know creates BIG BANGS out of the blue in life for me 🙂 ..i am also known to appear and this i hate cuz its not me condescending at times or stubborn in discussions..tho that could be my taurus sun lol

    satori..i loved the Princess mask..i also link that or say that Princess presona or princess in distress or needing rescue is so a Pisces Sun thing 🙂

  28. Scorpio rising. As Shel said, I’m “shrewd, appraising, stand-offish” especially when I’m uncomfortable or in a new situation.

    And since Scorpio is a feminine sign, I tend to yield to people at first. I like to see what they do with that ‘power’ and judge them accordingly.

    But my Sag first house planets counter-act all that Scorpio business when I’m more comfortable and in my fire element.

  29. LOL Dixie!!! that’s good

    “Virgo’s 12th is Leo, and behind that trademark modesty can lurk a surprising amount of ego”

    I think Donna is on to something here – that’s certainly true of me. And once I’ve had a glass [or two] of wine, or if I’m in an up mood and getting the right sort of attention, I can shine like any Leo.

    I’ve certainly got plenty of ego, although I always put down to being a Cap, as well as having to develop it do survive the endless assaults on my ego throughout childhood.

  30. Cancer rising…when I was younger, men upon meeting me would say, “you are nothing like I thought you would be.” I guess the full cheeks, big eyes, big breasts, and big hair had them fooled.

  31. Libra rising, Venus squaring ASC.

    With new acquaintances I want to know how they feel about things before I voice my own opinion. I also seem really indecisive, because I ask for other peoples opinions, when that’s just my way of participating in a conversation. Most of the time I have actually made up my mind on that particular subject a long time ago, I’m just not voicing it 😀 Some people who don’t have Libra think I’m a bit stupid because I ask for other people’s opinions..

    Only when I get to know someone better, I start to be straightforward with my opinions like any Sag sun would.

  32. Pisces rising… people think im sweet, nice, lovely, dreamy or they dont even know Im there…they have no idea my scorpio sun and packed 8th house is monitoring their every move.

  33. It is a common missconception though, that Asc is only ”a mask”. Its more then that. The asc is like a flavor that gives flavor to all of the 12 houses more or less!

    I have found this and I have found other astrologers saying this aswell.

    For ex I have a virgo Asc and no planets in virgo at all. Not in vedic nor draconic or sideral. But when I read about virgo venus, virgo mars, virgo moon etc they all suit my personality aswell, not in all aspects but in many aspects and you can sense a ”theme”, the virgo theme in all my houses and planets.

    Because asc sign will flavor all of the houses and planets regardless of if it is in aspect with asc ruler or not.

  34. My rising sign has always been a bit elusive to me. I’m Cancer rising @ 29 degress so that’s right on cusp of 12th/1st house. Does this mean the ascendant super potent Cancer at that degree or does it have Leonine qualities as well? Would love to know this! Thank you! 🙂

  35. Lots of interesting combinations here!

    My ascendant is so much more than a mask.. It goes all the way through me. Scorpio ascendant conjunct Venus/Pluto with Mars in Aquarius 3rd house. Libra sun, but Oct 19th on the cusp of Scorp in the 12th house! I’ve got lots of “Scorpio swagger” as I like to call it.

    However, it all feels like a big coverup for my Taurus moon at times. When I’m stressed, I put on too much makeup and eat too many chocolate munchkins! ?

  36. I have Libra rising, but I have Mars/Neptune conjunct in the 1st house square Uranus and trine Jupiter. I think people see the Libra and Neptune first, but after they talk to me they know I’m no pushover.

  37. Aquarius Rising here and my Uranus is planted in my 8th house, so, I scare the crap out of people sometimes. Haha! I love wearing all black even in the hottest part of summer. Just recently, I have come to realize that if I wear colors I feel odd and just out of my comfort zone. But when I put my black clothes on, I feel much more comfortable. And I loathe white clothes!

    I come across as strange to others. One day many years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, my husband and I went into a Dairy Queen and a family that had came from church eyeballed me warily. It was in the hot summer and I was in black as usual. Well the mother grabbed her kids and pulled them close to her and when we walked by to our table, the boy turned and did a vampire hiss at me and then the family left. I laughed so hard! [No, I am not into evil, but I live for the unknown-paranormal.]

    And don’t get me started on Halloween, my favorite time of year, when I can really feel NORMAL. LOLOL!!

  38. My Sun is Cancer, my ASC is Leo with Mercury in 12th conjunct.
    I have a very enthusiastic, dramatic, sincere, warm & strong mask.
    Pluto is square my ASC so that mask it literal, i can hide my entire self to anyone without ever leaving a trace, but not always to my benefit, which is not really an issue no more since ridding the bad energy from within me.

    My Cancerian nature really goes well with my ASC, dig deeper you find such a softy, but a softy that won’t ever break under hard times.

    At times i am unapproachable, people will look at me but not say anything, i have caused people to have a very unsteady manner, even outright want to fight me because i am intimidating sometimes without meaning to be.

    So that’s me.

  39. Libra ASC for a Leo Sun.
    I don’t feel that I wear a mask, as if hiding something. It’s more like I’m basically not super-Leo (Sun conjunct Saturn dims Leo spotlights!).
    Perhaps I like to show of in a discreet way? I admire people with lots of flair but do not feel comfortable to attract attention.
    As for interaction with others, I try to be “nice”, though sometimes I feel like a hypocrite because I feel like I’m just being polite. Well, I guess that’s a mask! Not hiding unpoliteness, b/c I’m generally polite, but perhaps hiding a lack of deep interest for some things. But I’ve got Moon in Aqua, so that’s sort of detached.

  40. Aquarius ASC and as I get older I feel more like this than my Cap Sun. Not so much concerned anymore with what others think of me, do what I want to enjoy/experience life, don’t put so much emphasis on titles and accomplishments anymore – been there done that and in the end I am much more happier to travel, be with people who are genuine and of like mind, and soak up all that life has to offer. I was much more serious, concerned with my image, and goal oriented when I was younger and it served me well. But now I want to play. 🙂

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