What Your Rising Sign Really Means, Explained By An Astrologer

Astrologer Lisa Moore shares her knowledge of what your rising sign means, what it *doesn’t* mean, and how to apply this information in your own life.

If you’re interested in astrology (and who isn’t these days?) then you might’ve heard of the “big three” — meaning your sun sign, moon sign, and rising sign. While most people know their sun sign (the zodiac sign determined by your date of birth) the other two signs are equally important in determining the essence of your personality. 

“I think of the Sun, Moon, and Rising sign as the holy trinity of the horoscope,” says astrologer Lisa Moore. “All the placements in our chart (signs, planets, points, and aspects) represent archetypes of who we are, and they each contribute specific gifts.”

Our rising sign is our own special expression of who we are, how we interact out in the world and with others on a daily basis.

According to Moore, the Sun represents our hero/heroine journey — the inner parts we don’t let everyone see, including our ego and vitality. Our moon sign indicates how we process and express our feelings, and how we interact within relationships. And our rising sign is “our own special expression of who we are, how we interact out in the world and with others on a daily basis, and how we appear. We use our rising sign as the vehicle to drive toward the true light of our sun sign.”

Knowing your rising sign is a game-changer because it gives you a more accurate snapshot of who you are and your journey. Below, Moore shares her knowledge of what your rising sign means, what it doesn’t mean, and how to apply this information in your own life.

What your rising sign, aka your Ascendant sign, means 

Your rising sign is determined at birth by the zodiac sign associated at the intersection of the sun's yearly orbit and the Earth's eastern horizon. So, according to Moore, you need an accurate birth time and place to determine your rising sign (if you do not know your birth time, Moore recommends checking with the hospital or city where you were born as they may have it on record). Once you have that — you’re ready to learn everything you need to know about this integral placement.

“The rising sign, also known as the Ascendant sign, represents our most distinct personality traits and our appearance,” says Moore. “It’s how we arrive in the world, and we look to this sign for the characteristics that will manifest in the individual as they grow and mature.”

The rising sign describes how you are naturally predisposed to make choices in life and how you wish to be seen in the world. They are the attributes we embrace to engage with others and the deficits we learn from.

The rising sign appears at the cusp of your first house in your birth chart, which Moore says sets us on our journey through life. For context, the first six houses are where we begin to gather our foundational experiences (self-worth, what we value, how we learn to communicate, family of origin, our creativity and daily routines/health), while houses six through twelve represent our interactions with the more public spheres of life.

How your rising sign helps you understand yourself

“The rising sign describes how you are naturally predisposed to make choices in life and how you wish to be seen in the world,” says Moore. “They are the attributes we embrace to engage with others and the deficits we learn from.” 

According to Moore, awareness of what our rising sign represents the opportunity to inhabit the higher octaves of the zodiac sign while hopefully lessening the time we engage with the lower octaves. For example, if your rising sign is Leo, you might embrace being confident and generous while making conscious choices not to engage in selfishness. 

“It is a way to learn, helping us to embrace a better version of ourselves and I believe, more importantly, a road map on how to be true to ourselves,” says Moore. 

What isn’t true about your rising sign 

“The one pet peeve I have is defining a sign as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ No matter which signs or placements are involved there are no ‘bad’ signs,” says Moore. “All astrological placements have higher and lower expressions of their energy. Our job is to ask ourselves some tough questions and learn to be accountable. Knowing that we will express aspects of our rising signs — for better and worse — hopefully, we are able to show grace and mercy when we all, inevitably, make mistakes.”

What your rising sign says about you

Know your rising sign? Perfect! Below is Moore’s run-down of your rising sign’s keyword and your most positive (and not so positive) expression of it.


Keywords: “I am,” Drive, Action, Initiative, Enthusiasm 

Positive Expressions: Courageous, Self-motivated, Decisive and Energetic

Negative Expressions: Rash, Willful, Selfish, Coarse

“Your lesson is to interact with the world around you in a spontaneous and passionate way yet be aware not to impose your will selfishly onto others.”


Keywords: “I possess,” Deliberate, Patient, Practical, Calm

Positive Expressions: Persistent, Grounded, Acquisitive, Sensual

Negative Expressions: Stubborn, Unimaginative, Possessive, Self-indulgent

“Your lesson is to stay connected to your body and the earth and not get sidetracked by too many distractions. You can stay the course because of your fixed sign nature but not get bogged down in a deep resistance to change.”


Keywords: “I think,” Versatile, Intellectual, Rational, Communicative

Positive Expressions: Sociable, Adaptable, Diverse, Quick-witted

Negative Expressions: Flirtatious, Unpredictable, Double-dealing, Shallow

“Your lesson is to continually be open to learning embracing your natural curiosity. You need movement and stimulation as you are a mutable Air sign.” 


Keywords: “I feel,” Emotional, Receptive, Tenacious, Caring

Positive Expressions: Sensitive, Nurturing, Imaginative, Supportive

Negative Expressions: Moody, Smothering, Neurotic, Domineering

“Your lesson is to find a fulfilling role which utilizes drawing people together to provide a creative outlet for all your Watery energy.”


Keywords: “I will,” Grand, Playful, Loyal, Creative

Positive Expressions: Generous, Confident, Authoritative, Performer

Negative Expressions: Self-centered, Arrogant, Authoritarian, Attention-seeker

“Your lesson is to engage with the world through creative and heart-centered play. To utilize your ability to sustain long-term goals, projects, and relationships with all that Fixed Fire energy.”


Keywords: “I analyze,” Discriminating, Analytical, Methodical, Practical

Positive Expressions: Efficient, Orderly, Compliant, Effective

Negative Expressions: Fussy, Perfectionist, Submissive, Neurotic

“Your lesson is to rise above Earthly pitfalls and materiality; you are happy connecting one-to-one and can utilize your gifts of analysis and organization to create order out of chaos.”


Keywords: “I balance,” Loving, Balanced, Sociable, Relationship-oriented

Positive Expressions: Fair-minded, Gracious, Co-operative, Peace-loving

Negative Expressions: Indecisive, Gushing, Confrontational, Over-compromising

“Your lesson is to be the outgoing person who initiates ideas into action, utilizing your Cardinal Air energy. Teamwork is a more comfortable option than solitary projects.”


Keywords: “I desire,” Resourceful, Intuitive, Insightful, Determined

Positive Expressions: Passionate, Private, Sensitive, Powerful

Negative Expressions: Jealous, Secretive, Unforgiving, Overbearing

“Your lesson is to tap into your innate creativity. You have deep emotional sensitivity and insight that can sustain a long-term initiative.” 


Key words: “I seek,” Optimistic, Enthusiastic, Adventurous, Philosophical

Positive Expressions: Freedom-loving, Honest, Outgoing, Wise

Negative Expressions: Non-committal, Blunt, Indiscriminate, My way or the Highway

“Your lesson is to be open to adventure and a citizen of the world, you are on an endless journey for knowledge and experiences. Use your intuitive Fire and Mutability to create and not for drama.” 


Keywords: “I achieve,” Patient, Organized, Serious, Stable

Positive Expressions: Controlled, Thrifty, Ambitious, Strategic

Negative Expressions: Guarded, Ungenerous, Ruthless, Calculating

“Your lesson is to combine your inwardly creative spirit with the ability to build in the outer world. Recognize the need for the involvement of others to help realize your visions.”


Keywords: “I know,” Society-oriented, Independent, Rational, Detached

Positive Expressions: Unconventional, Humanitarian, Friendly, Idealistic

Negative Expressions: Distant, Impersonal, Inflexible

“Your lesson is to embrace being part of the group (collective) and utilize your ability to see things from an unconventional perspective for the elevation of the group.”


Keywords: “I believe,” Sensitive, Compassionate, Receptive, Imaginative

Positive Expressions: Sympathetic, Dreamy, Psychic, Passive

Negative Expressions: Overly sentimental, Unfocused, Neurotic, Submissive

“Your lesson is to be sensitive to your need for psychic space, so you can recharge and not be submerged by the energies of others. Have a creative outlet so you grow in self-knowledge and not be sidelined into addictive behaviors or substances.”