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Image is Everything, or is it?

By : N. C. Syminghton 11/09/2001

Because many people share the same birthday and birth date, they share the same astrological features- to a large extent. It is the features that they don't share which make people appear so different even when they are born on the same date and in the same year. One of the astrological elements that serves to differentiate us is the Ascendant or Rising Sign.

One reason the moment of birth (or the beginning of an event) is so important to astrologers is its effect on the Ascendant-as well as other time-sensitive astrological elements. Changing approximately one degree of longitude for every four minutes of time, the Ascendant for a birth chart can be any degree of any of the 12 signs during a 24-hour period. To put it in another way, all 360 degrees of the Zodiac will rise-hence rising sign-over the Eastern horizon (location of the Ascendant) during one day. Therefore, if you are born on the same day, at the same place, and in the same year as someone else, but at a slightly different time, your Ascendants will not be the same.

Ok, enough of the technical explanation, let's explore what the Ascendant means. Because the degree of the Ascendant changes so quickly in time, it naturally becomes a very personal point. Whereas your Sun Sign is an identity that you share with many others, the Ascendant shows how you will express the identity the Sun represents. In fact, the Ascendant shows the primary way you perceive the world around you and the experiences you encounter. It is like a filter through which you apprehend life or view the interactions of all the astrological components that make up your chart-that make up you.

For instance, someone who has a Scorpio Ascendant (or Scorpio rising) will respond to the joys and vicissitudes encountered differently than someone with a Gemini Ascendant. Similar events will elicit responses colored by their respective Ascendants. A person with a Scorpio Ascendant tends to engage everything and everyone intensely and uncompromisingly; issues of power and control color his or her perception. The Gemini Ascendant tends to see many sides to any experience and "what can I learn from this" colors his or her perception.

Self-image is a common description for the Ascendant, and it is easy to see why. The way you perceive or filter experiences is a function of how you see yourself, or we could turn it around and say: the way you see yourself affects how you perceive the world around you. Either way, the Ascendant is a lens through which life is viewed, as well as how you see yourself and others see you. But is this really who you are? Are you seeing life for how it is or instead, how you unwittingly frame it? Recognizing the way you look at life can help you appreciate the way others look at it - especially those whose Ascendants differ from yours.

Opposite the Ascendant in a birth chart is the Descendant, which equates with the Western horizon where the Sun and the planets set or descend below view. As the polar opposite to the Ascendant, it represents how you see others, especially those with whom you share a commitment. Therefore, the Descendant corresponds to marriage and business partners, as well as any relationship that binds you in some way. Interestingly, it also relates to open enemies - meaning enemies who are known.

So what does this say about marriage or any committed relationship? Because the Descendant is opposite the Ascendant, or farthest away from it, it shows that a marriage partner often is someone you know least well and/or is quite different from you. However, since every component of your horoscope represents you in some way, the Descendant also can symbolize elements of yourself that you project onto another who reflects them back to you - so that you can learn from them and ultimately "own" them for yourself.

Rejecting or denying what a partner mirrors to you can jeopardize the partnership and can create antagonism between the two of you. Becoming "open enemies" is clearly seen in certain relationships that just aren't working - where the forces that first attracted two people now repel. Being 180 degrees away from the Ascendant, or in opposition to it, the Descendant can also bring a clearer perception of who you are (your Ascendant). Therefore, the partners that you join with during your life serve to make you more aware of yourself and help clarify the image that you project - often unknowingly.

What makes it challenging for a relationship to continue to grow is that both parties must own those parts of themselves that are reflected back to them by a partner. If only one is willing to take responsibility (or share in it), the relationship will get stuck. It may still survive, yet without reaching its full potential to illuminate each other.

Many partnerships never get beyond the point of relating to one another through the image each has of the other, where maintaining your own self-image (your Ascendant) can override looking in the mirror of your partner. The axis of the Ascendant and Descendant, symbolizing self and other, shows that one way to know yourself, as you truly are, requires the light from someone else to shine on you and for you to acknowledge and accept what you see for what it is-easy to say, difficult to do.

Note: If you don't know your exact time of birth, and you were born in the U.S., you can go to where you will find specific rules for each state on how to obtain your birth data. Many of the states have the application online with instructions on how to fill it out.

Note II: Even if you can't get your exact time of birth - or while you are waiting for it - please register at our Site (at not cost) and look at our "Couples Corner" section or the compatibility reports we have for couples in our astroReports section. Even without an exact time of birth, you will receive plenty of information to work with and to help you understand yourself and your partner better. We have astrology reports on horoscope compatibility and love compatibility that will get you started.

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  theFutureMinders Articles - by N. C. Syminghton
1. A Degree of Connection
2. George W. Bush
3. Astrology and the Flow of Life Part I
4. Astrology and the Flow of Life Part II
5. Enron's Collapse
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