We discussed how aspects and stelliums can affect planetary expression in the natal chart, if parts one and two of this series. Part three is about how the ascendant can affect a planet’s expression by acting as a filter through which other planets must pass, and also because it sets up the natal houses.
The ascendant (or “rising”) is the sign on the horizon at the moment of your birth. It is the 1st house cusp, and reflects your physical body and appearance, as well as your “outer shell” personality. But it goes deeper than that; the ascendant represents survival instincts you learned growing up. It is most vital when you are in unchartered territory, because it represents your survival tools.
Let’s say twin Sagittarius Sun children are born an hour apart: first, a girl with a Sag rising, and then a boy with a Capricorn rising. The girl is healthy, but the boy has complications that result in a chronic health condition. As they grow up, the sister is easy-going and physically active. Her brother, however, cannot go outside and play often, so he turns to academics.
Who is expressing their shared Sagittarius Sun more purely? The sister. She has a Sag rising which puts her Sun in the 1st house, conjunct her ascendant. Her Sun basically has no filter. The brother has a Capricorn rising which puts limits on expansive Sagittarius, plus it places his Sun in the 12th house, where its energy is diffused. This isn’t to say that he won’t go far in life, or have as much enjoyment as his sister, but her Sun as a planet is more purely expressed. The brother learns other ways to express his Sag Sun, like earning a degree in foreign studies or philosophy.
In general, if a planet is conjunct the ascendant or in the 1st house (like the girl’s Sun above), it is more easily expressed through the ascendant’s filter. If a planet positively aspects the ascendant, is in a compatible element to the rising, or is in the 5th or 9th houses, it may also be more easily expressed (and if conjunct the Midheaven, it’s an obvious part of the person’s persona/reputation).