I know what you’re thinking: there’s a WRONG way to read my horoscope?
Yes, friend. Wrong. And not just kind of wrong (like, McDonald’s breakfast on a hangover when no one is watching, wrong), but flat out, wrong wrong.
The reason? Horoscopes are written for ascendant, or rising signs, and you’ve been likely reading for your sun sign. If your sun and ascendant sign happen to be the same zodiac sign, you’re fine. You can ignore this whole article.
But, it’s much more likely they’re not the same, in which case, you need to keep reading.
This all started way back in ancient Egypt.
Egyptian culture has had a profound influence on astrology, which was itself a product of cross-pollination spanning most of the ancient world. It was the Egyptians, however, who are likely responsible for the advent of the ascendant, if but inadvertently.
To measure time during the night, when the sun was hidden and could not be relied upon as a time-tracking tool, the Egyptians split the sky into ten-degree segments, also called decans. These decans started to accumulate meanings over time, whereby being born when a particular decan rose over the horizon could have auspicious significance.
Eventually, the concept of a rising decan morphed into the idea of an ascendant sign, synonymous with the zodiac sign that rose over the horizon at the exact moment of birth. The ancient Greek astrologers called this point the ‘horoskópos’, the horoscope, or ‘hour marker.’
So, it turns out that the term ‘horoscope’ which we casually throw about as an epithet for that snippety bit of astro-insight usually found in the back pages of a magazine or newspaper, means no such thing. The horoskópos, a.k.a. the ascendant, is about something much more profound: it marks a child’s first breath, when the soul enters the body and this life for the first time.
Later referred to in ancient astrological texts as ‘the helmsman’, the ascendant and its ruler were considered responsible for steering our souls through life, for better or for worse.
The creation and adoption of the ascendant was one of the first steps in astrology’s evolution from omen-based forecasting to a craft that could focus its sights on an individual’s fortunes. And if you plan on using astrology in any form or fashion to know more about your own fortunes, you’d better get cozy with your ascendant sign, pronto.
If you aren’t already aware, the ascendant is a highly personal astrological point typically found in the first house of the natal chart. Sometimes called the rising sign, the ascendant is the quickest changing point in the chart, moving much faster than either the sun or moon.
This is why astrologers, as well as your friend who dabbles in amateur astro-sleuthing, are so concerned about the time you were born. Without a relative level of birth time accuracy, it can be very difficult to ascertain the sign or degree of the ascendant.
This becomes a problem for a few reasons. Firstly, the sign, ruler of, and aspects to the ascendant are incredibly important. Planets near the ascendant are particularly so, as they can deftly texture our appearance, personality, and how we come across to others. Without an accurate birth time, however, it becomes very hard to know the position of the ascendant.
Secondly, the sign of the ascendant cements the chart into being. The natal chart is comprised of twelve different houses, which act as celestial stages where the drama of life plays out. The ascendant sign naturally dictates which zodiac sign will rule the first house of the natal chart, which in turn sets the signs and boundaries of every other house thereafter.
To write horoscopes, astrologers pivot on the sign of the first house: to write Aries, they put Aries on the first house, to write Taurus, they then put Taurus as the sign of the first house, and so on, throughout the zodiac. Each time this is done, they reassess the house positions of the planets and write their reflections accordingly.
This has major ramifications for the average horoscope reader. Unbeknownst to you, the horoscope you’ve been loyally reading for years as an ‘Aries’ was for Aries rising.
To illustrate this, let’s use an example. Say an astrologer wants to focus on Venus’ transit of Libra in their upcoming horoscopes. As an Aries sun sign, you read your Aries horoscope as per usual, understanding that this means Venus would affect the seventh house of partners in romance and business. Venus transiting this space may bring us closer together to partners or highlight the need to find equilibrium in partnerships by using Libran tactics like objectivity and diplomacy.
Reflecting on how we’re connecting to our partners is never bad advice, but it may not be as helpful an edict as it could be, if there was a more accurate horoscope in store for you. Going further with our example, let’s imagine that you’re still an Aries sun, but have just realized that Taurus is your rising sign.
For Taurus rising, this same horoscope would mean that Venus’ journey through Libra would affect the sixth house instead of the seventh, which deals with health, colleagues, chores and errands. Our workplace may become a place of relative ease during this transit, and we may feel more able to achieve moderation in managing our health.
Neither horoscope is better than another, but it may very well be the case that one more closely mimics how our life is unfolding in real time.
Now that you cannot un-know the importance of your ascendant, à la Spike Lee, do the right thing: get your chart done and find out your ascendant sign.
After that, there are no hard-set rules. Note your ascendant sign and start reading the horoscope connected to that sign as a first port of call. Many ardent followers of Astrology read their sun sign horoscope as a secondary, ‘symbolic’ horoscope to layer on top of their ascendant sign horoscope; some even read horoscopes associated with their sun, ascendant, and moon sign.
As ever, your horoscopes (like all astrological info) are tools for you to use as you see fit. Find out what works best for you, and go with it!