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Basics of Astrology

Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Signs: What Does it All Mean?

Big 3: What are Sun, Moon, and Rising signs?

Everyone knows their Sun sign, but what about the rest of the planets? Once you start to dabble in Astrology, you’ll realize you’re so much more than this one sign. Venus can reveal how you show up in relationships, while Mercury can tell you all about your communication style. This is like opening a can of worms for the beginner Astrology student, though. A great place to start is by learning your big three — Sun, Moon, and Rising signs.

Your Sun sign represents your core personality traits, your Moon sign reveals how you feel on the inside, and your Rising sign portrays how others see you from the outside. Once you put them all together, you have the perfect little snapshot of who you are.

  1. Sun Sign = Core Self
  2. Moon Sign = Inner Self
  3. Rising Sign = Outer Self

Sun sign: Your core self

Keywords: ego, identity, essence, vitality

Obviously, the Sun is a pretty big deal. It’s the creative force of our solar system — the light that allows plants to grow and animals to eat. Without it, humans simply wouldn’t be here. So, your Sun sign represents your creative essence, your unique personality, or your light. In a nutshell, this is how you shine.

Your Sun sign is likely not news to you. When people ask, “What’s your star sign?” — this is what they’re talking about. Since all the planets revolve around the Sun, it loves a little attention, so the qualities of your Sun sign are the ways you get that attention.

But hold on a minute — these traits are not always ones we currently embody, they’re also those we are learning to express. While Libra represents balance, for example, we all know a Libra or two who enjoys going to extremes. So before you put someone in a box for being a Scorpio (because we all know they get a bad rap), keep this in mind: we’re so much more than just our Sun sign.

Moon sign: Your inner self

Keywords: feelings, emotions, instincts, inner world

Just as the Moon’s gravitational pull affects the tides of the ocean, the Moon signs say a lot about our inner tides — our moods, feelings, and emotions. Since the Moon moves so quickly and changes signs every couple of days or so, our moods are also constantly shifting. The big question is, how do we cope with them?

Your Moon sign can give you a pretty clean read about what your inner world looks like. Some of us feel feelings so deeply that we’re scared they might annihilate us (hint, hint, Scorpio Moon natives), whereas others try to analyze and fix their emotions instead of feeling them (we’re looking at you, Virgo Moon folks).

The Moon represents your mother or primary caregiver, so the sign here says a lot about how you were mothered as a child and also gives you insight into how you nurture yourself and others as an adult. It’s all about your needs, instincts, and motives. While you may want to keep these parts hidden, without them, you’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

Rising sign/Ascendant: Your outer self

Keywords: lens, mask, perspective, social image

If anyone has ever tried to guess your Sun sign and gotten it wrong, they may have mistakenly guessed your Rising sign. This is what you look like on the surface — it’s the cover of your book, the outer skin of your onion, the mask you wear out at a party. The funny thing is, most of us don’t see ourselves in the characteristics of this sign, but everyone else does!

The Rising sign, also known as your Ascendant, is the sign that was on the Eastern horizon when you were born. It marks the beginning of your birth chart as well as all of your astrological houses, and therefore colors everything in them. If you put on a pair of sunglasses, your Rising sign would be the tint of the lenses. If you tend to have rose-colored glasses, you might be a Pisces Rising. If you typically have a bright, sunny perspective, you could be a Leo Rising.

Just as an onion is juicier than its dry skin, you also have a lot of layers that people don’t see until they get to know you. Those other layers include the planets and which signs and houses they occupy in your chart. We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but we still do it anyway. Next time you do, ask yourself: are you judging the whole person or just the Rising sign?

Interpreting your Big 3

Now that you know your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs, what do you do with them? Well for starters, you can get to know yourself better! Instead of just identifying with one sign, you will begin to see that Astrology is a lot more nuanced than that. Let’s say you identify as a Virgo. Well, this means very different things depending on whether your Sun, Moon, or Rising sign is in Virgo…

Sun in Virgo

With a Sun in Virgo, you like to help others, keep busy, and get stuff done. Sure, you may be a little critical of yourself and others, but the underlying intention is good — you see the best in everyone and want the best for everyone. This highly refined attention to detail can lead to all sorts of brilliance (as long as your harsh perfectionism is kept in check).

Moon in Virgo

If your Moon is in Virgo, however, that perfectionism is turned inward. Most people probably don’t know this about you, but you’re your own worst critic. This fear of not being good enough can result in a lot of anxiety and what we like to call “analysis paralysis.” When you’re not trying to analyze your way out of difficult emotions, you’re trying to fix other people’s problems, making you extremely caring, helpful, and intelligent.

Virgo Rising

Now if you’re a Virgo Rising, others will likely see you as service-oriented, practical, and really good at everything you do. These qualities also filter the lens through which you see the world. However, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t think you’re a master at anything. This is precisely why you succeed at whatever you put your mind to — you’re constantly pushing yourself to do better.

Which sign should I read for my horoscope?

When reading a daily, monthly, or yearly horoscope, most people will just look at their Sun sign. While this will give you some valuable information about what’s in the cards for you, there are limitations here. As we said before, you’re so much more than just your Sun sign.

Since the Rising sign marks the beginning of your birth chart, referencing this horoscope gives you a more accurate interpretation of which houses the planets are transiting in your chart. This is why it can be helpful to read the horoscopes for both your Sun and Rising signs. Doing so will give you a better grasp of the different themes showing up in your life.

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