The Ascendant and Descendent lie at two opposite ends of your Natal Chart, beginning the First and Seventh Houses, respectively. The Ascendant, or AC, or Rising Sign, lies on the left, on the eastern horizon, where the Sun ascended into the sky at dawn. The Descendant, or DC, sits on the right, on the western horizon where the sun descended under the horizon at dusk. These two angles may rule opposing Houses, but they connect, rather than divide, a chart's separate halves.
The AC begins the First House of Self, the domain of everything you are and see yourself as. These are the qualities you see and accept in yourself, which you wear proudly for all the world to see. Your Sun may be who are in the centre of your planetary personality - your ego, your conscious, your identity - but your AC is the constructed image you decorate yourself with. It is how you dress, how you do your hair, your make-up, your nails, your shoes. It's the way you hold your body, the expression on your face, and the way you look out at the world. It's the personality quirks you tell people you have, what you know you are like, what you want to see yourself as. Your AC is a mask you climb into that you've made for yourself; the identity you've made out of qualities you like and admire most.
The DC, on the other hand, begins the Seventh House of Relationships. Sometimes referred to as your "Shadow Side", as the opposite of your AC, this Sign is everything that you aren't. These are the qualities you disassociate from, deny, repress, ignore, or refuse to acknowledge exist within your personality. It is the opposite of everything you identify as, so it stands to irritate or even infuriate you to be around it. Yet - curiously enough - you are drawn to the qualities of this Sign over, and over, and over again in the people you meet and form relationships with. Why? It's an "opposites attract" sort of magnetism.
Whether or not you want to believe it, your DC is still very much a part of who you are. You might not see it, but it's there. Your lovers and spouses and everybody else in your Seventh House will tell you it's there, because that's how they see you. You see yourself through your AC, and partners see you through your DC. You might initially deny it. But take a step outside of yourself and look at your actions through the eyes of someone else, and you may realize how unlike yourself you are when you are around someone you love.
The ultimate task is to bring these two halves together, incorporating your DC into your identity, and loving and accepting the parts of yourself you don't want to own up to. You do this by attracting people who embody these qualities into your life, forming outward relationships to unite the inner forces of your own personality. When you battle and resolve issues with them, you bring these two ends of your chart closer together. And when you can finally own up to the DC aspects of your personality, you will no longer need to cycle through partnerships in order to become enlightened to your true self.
AC/DC SIGN PLACEMENTS
An Aries AC sees the world through an egocentric lens of vibrant colours, easily surmountable challenges, and high-minded optimism. You admire your Aries qualities, identifying yourself as spontaneous, competitive, aggressive, enthusiastic, energetic, independent, athletic, and a take-no-shit, no-nonsense type of person. Although you also possess a violent temper, short-attention span, and an offensive/combative personality, you feel no shame in these aspects of yourself, and feel they are superior to their alternatives. In fact, everything you see in yourself is better - you are stronger, smarter, cooler, more capable, and more talented than most, and it's hard to call you cocky when you're right. Much of your lifelong success comes from your single-minded determination to win and the (almost unbearable) amount of confidence you have in yourself, so it's hard to tell you to dial it back just because your challenging persona makes other people insecure.
Your Libra DC stands opposite your Aries AC, which shows that to you, honestly - no matter how uncomfortable it makes people - is always better than deceptive manipulation or pussy-footing around the issue. You call people out on their shit. You point your finger at the problem and say the first thing that comes to mind, no matter how rude or insensitive that may be to them. Rarely do you think to be more sensitive around certain issues, and rarer still do you apologize. To you, it is better to say what you mean and stand by what you say, rather than say whatever you have to to make people like you or feel better about themselves. If they get mad, or lash out, or try to argue with you about it, you take them on until either they've exhausted themselves, or you get impatient and give up on them.
With a Taurus AC, you wear yourself like a solid wall. Though at first you appear shy, quiet, introverted, or closed off, there is a hidden strength to you that suggests you are not a person to push around. Like the Taurus symbol, you portray yourself as easygoing, unemotional, slow-moving, and stubborn, wanting nothing more than a plate of hot food, your family nearby, and a simple home in the countryside. You wear soft, stretchy clothes and have a natural, beautiful look that is effortless and simple. You grope around for a quiet corner, a soft cushion, a cup of something warm, and a place to curl up in. You gravitate towards these things like they are pulling you in, and you stay in their orbit until forced to move somewhere else. In every way, you see yourself as uncomplicated, reasonable, and rational - a hard worker with a well-earned lazy streak, and a lover of the finer things in life.
Your Scorpio DC embodies everything that your Taurus AC is not, and everything you do not want to be: unstable, cruel, hyper-sexualized, obsessive, aggressive, power-hungry, and prone to explosive emotional outbursts. You cannot stand the whiplash-inducing emotional extremes of your Descendant Sign, or the under-handed manipulations Scorpio uses to deceive themselves and take advantage of others. They draw you in with the promise of sexual fulfillment, ensnare you with a loving (almost therapeutic) bond, and then lure you into a painful venus-flytrap of chaos and pain. They are afraid of vulnerability but desperately want to trust you, so your relationships are bound to be filled with pushing back and forth. To you, it's all over-complicated, over-emotional, nonsensical, bullshit, and the games they play are more pathetic than powerful, in your mind.
Talkative, friendly, highly social, and very intelligent. Utterly rational, logical, and reasonable, able to mathematically analyse problems and communicate information in a clear and concise way. This is how you see yourself through the senses of your Gemini AC - as a light-hearted, curious, sporadic person who flits here and there like a wayward butterfly, charming your way through flushes of colourful acquaintances. With this Rising Sign, your eyes sparkle whenever your mind starts turning, glinting off the heat of a potential lover, an exciting conversation, telling a hilarious story, or meeting strangers for the first time. Many with this Ascendant Sign remain youthful well into old age because they carry this kind of infectious Gemini energy with them, always. In fact, some say it keeps you young at heart forever.
Having a Sagittarius DC, then, means that you have a strong distaste for foolish, distasteful, and boisterous liars. As someone who sticks to the scientifically proven facts - the way things really are - you can't stand listening to amateur philosophers rattle off unrealistic ideas about what the world could or should be like. And as someone who knows they are smart, and knows they have a way with words, it frustrates you to be around rude, hot-headed, and tactless idiots who speak before thinking about what they are talking about.
When people meet you, the first thing they notice is how quiet and guarded you are. You sit in the shadows and stare out at the conversation, listening intently but not saying much back. That is because you are a very sensitive, intuitive, and emotional person. And being as empathetic as you are, you absorb everybody else’s feelings and take them directly into your heart, where they impact you in a very big way. It can be difficult for you to block other people’s emotions and not confuse them for your own, or to not let someone else's energy personally effect you. So to protect yourself you hide inside and reveal very little, and don't let anybody get too close.
However, despite this guarded nature, you still see yourself as compassionate and loving toward those in your family or immediate friend-group. You identify as a caregiver, sensitive to the needs of others, warm, understanding, gentle with children and animals. This is why your Capricorn DC embodies all the qualities you do not see in yourself. It is a Sign that is cold, rational, unfeeling, insensitive, hardened, and detached. It views the world through a hierarchical lens, looking to see who they can use as stepping stones on their way to the top. This kind of dispassionate. snobbish, superiority complex is something you despise in people, and is certainly not anything you would want to be seen as.
A Leo AC is marked by beautiful hair, a shining smile, and a childlike charm and innocence. You dress in bold styles to capture attention, turning the spotlight onto you with striking designs and dramatic sex appeal. This is an Ascendant that all eyes fall on and everyone follows, since you take centre-stage and lead the charge in every situation. Maybe it is your sunny disposition, the warmth in your welcome, the undying friendliness that you approach the world with. Or perhaps it is your fun-loving nature, your creativity, or your entertaining character. Whatever it is, people love your Leo AC, and you love it about yourself too.
Would people still love you if you were the opposite of all that? If you lacked warmth and charisma, and instead were cold, detached, and uncaring? Probably not. That's why you keep your Leo AC where you can see it, and throw your Aquarius DC behind you, where you don't. Aquarius is a Sign that you don't really care much for, since it is the epitome of everything you dislike in people. Aquarius is unpredictable, being so many contradictory things at once, that you never know if you are going to get their good side or their bad. Are they going to be selfless, or selfish? Exuberantly happy, or withdrawn into broody silence? One minute they are committed in loving loyalty, and the next they abandon you to be with someone else, as if they couldn't care less. For someone who thrives on being special, on being the centre of attention, at the forefront of everyone's hearts and minds, you hate how quickly this Sign goes from fawning over you to ignoring you completely. But maybe, that's the sort of thing that causes you to chase after them time and time again.
With your narrowed eyes, a crease in your brow, and tightly pursed lips, people often get the impression that you are mad or upset about something. You could be perfectly happy and just mulling things over in your head, speaking quietly because you are distracted by what you are fixated on. But they will still get confused and think you are mean, grumpy, rude, or that you don't like them, simply because you do not come across as particularly cheerful. It's just as well. A Virgo Ascendant is cursed with "Resting-Bitch Face", which hides the warm and loving qualities you possess under a snobbish, distant facade.
Looking out through Virgo eyes, you see a world of mess and mistakes. Your lens zeroes in on what needs to be fixed, what is out of place, what needs to be tightened or cleared or cleaned or spruced up. You see fault, stupidity, and problems that need to be dealt with. And nowhere do you see those things more than in yourself. You know exactly what is wrong with you - you're too anxious, you need a healthier diet, you need to exercise, you need to work on your accomplishments more - and you have a constant, ticking reminder go off every time you don't do what you're supposed to do. But you also know what everyone else's problems are. They are stupid, illogical, irrationally emotional. They believe in things without proof because they want a comforting lie to box up their fears in. They are messy, lazy, gullible, and overly sensitive. They are everything your Pisces DC represents, and everything you deny exists within your own personality.
Outer beauty is the signature of this Ascendant Sign. With a Libra AC, you are gifted with good looks, symmetrical features, and a natural sense of style. You like vintage pieces, natural fabrics, form-fitting clothing tailored to your body type, and something with a little creative flair. You appear refined, poised, with a simple kind of elegance and a quiet charm that leads people up to you. The secret is in your natural sense of balance. You possess an inner equilibrium that tells you when something is off-kilter. It is the source of your artistic talent. But more importantly, it is what fuels your sense of fairness, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, which gives you such a strong conviction of honour and trustworthiness.
Seeing yourself as a fair and balanced person, it doesn't take much to upset your delicate senses. You have little tolerance for rude, aggressive, tactless egotism. You can't stand loud, obnoxious, boisterous behaviour. You are a polite, soft-spoken, relationship-oriented person; selfishness, stupidity, and single-mindedness have no place in your life. This is what your Aries DC is: everything you hate in a person, everything you want to distance yourself, nothing that you identify as. It is a Sign that wants to compete with and dominate you, which runs off pure emotional aggression, with no room for rationality. It is a Sign that you argue with often, but who doesn't see your side of things, no matter how well-placed an argument you put forward.
Having a Scorpio AC is complicated. It's a complex and emotional Sign that grows out of family issues, trauma, and tragedy, giving you sharp eyes and intuitive understanding of how people work. You tend to assume people mean more than they say, and you are always looking for hidden depths that may or may not be there. When you look out into the world you dissect every subtle nuance, trying to get to the heart of some secret motivation or nefarious intention. You might come across a little paranoid. But you are not often wrong. You see things coming a mile away - a skill you developed early on in your family home, where you had to learn to predict the unpredictable in order to keep yourself safe from the flurry of extreme emotions, anger, abuse, manipulative, addiction, alcoholism, and psychic energy surrounding you.
The mask you wear can be whatever you need it to be. You can be quiet, aloof, distant, and guarded, in order to keep people away from you. Or you can extroverted, friendly, seductive, and magnetic, to get people to come toward you. You can turn up the intensity, the passion, the anger, or the abuse, in order to get people to do what you want. Or you can be more subtly manipulative, using whatever tools you have at your disposal to coerce them into doing your bidding. You see yourself as powerful, formidable, mysterious, but also as a healer, a therapist, and a spiritual guide. With all you know and all you can do, you lead people through the most trans-formative periods of their life - if they are open to change, that is.
With a Sagittarius AC, you have a positive outlook on everything. You wear a big, friendly smile and happily bounce here and there, never settling in one place for too long. You want your life to be full of spontaneity and adventure, and you have no qualms about suddenly changing your whole life to suit those needs. Travelling is a good outlet for this kind of energy. You love to run off to exotic places, see new sights, learn new languages, and adopt foreign customs as your own. But you also love to learn about culture, philosophy, society, and people, and so you spend a lot of time travelling in your head. Whichever you prefer to be doing, you do so with unyielding optimism and lust for life. All you want to do is dance, laugh, and have fun. As long as it is new and exciting for you, you love to participate!
You wear the mask of Sagittarius: expansive, generous, philosophical, spiritual, wild and freedom-loving, a dreamer of big dreams, an untamable spirit, loud and uncouth and the speaker of truths. Your Gemini shadow, on the other hand, contains all the qualities you dislike in a person, and what you don't want to see in yourself. You see people through this lens as two-faced liars. You find they limit their minds with science and cold-hard-facts, instead of expanding into the world of ideas and possibilities. You can't stand to have your imagination or creativity limited in this way. And you can't stand their chaotic, scatter-brained duality, either. Your Sagittarius AC means that you pick a target and fire an arrow, chasing after what your want with single-minded determination. But Gemini is fickle and never knows what they want, dispersing their energy in too many directions at once.
When you wear a Capricorn AC, you wear it in conservative clothes and a put-together appearance. You wear it as a quiet, thoughtful demeanour, detached, reserved, and professional in every way. Despite insecurities about your body image and your anxieties about money, you are very confident in your leadership abilities and how well you can manage your affairs. Not only do you lead yourself (setting goals, and then mapping out how to achieve them), but you can take charge of a group and lead everyone else as well. The chances of you giving over an ounce of control are slim, as you insist on being in charge of everything. You micromanage, critique other people’s ideas and work, and impose on what everyone else is doing. But your extremely high standards prove time and time again to be the best for quality and efficiency. They might not like how you say it, but you’re always right!
When you look at yourself you see the qualities of your Capricorn AC: responsible, hard working, ambitious, and career-oriented. The qualities of your Cancer DC, on the other hand, are nowhere to be found. You do not see yourself as clingy, sensitive, completely overcome by your emotions, or a victim of your various mood swings. You are stern and detached, completely contained within yourself, immune to the energies surrounding you. You are more paternal than maternal, more masculine than feminine, closer to your father than your mother. With ice in your veins and discipline on your side, you do not cry and pity yourself when things don’t go your way - you just work harder!
If you have an Aquarius AC, you make your mark by being different. Everything about your look is unique, from the way you wear your hair and do your make-up, to your clothes, your sense of style, and the way you carry yourself. This AC is an expression of what you see when you look at yourself: an individual who stands out from the rest, who gets lumped in with the weirdos, the freaks, and the crazies, for daring to be different from everyone else. People see you and quickly cast you out, reject you, give you nothing but confused stares and a judgmental attitude. But when you don't back down and continue to be your confident, outgoing, hilarious self, in a matter of time they are all clamouring to be you - copying your style and emulating the confidence that comes to you so easily.
The mask you wear is a complicated one, full of contradictions. You are a revolutionary, a rebel, an individual, and a misunderstood loner, who feels as though nobody truly sees you for who you really are. But you are also an extrovert who loves to be around people, who needs friends and relationships and a group to belong to. Through it all, you maintain a big-picture perspective, of how the mainstream society you live in is flawed and in need of change, but also how the needs of the group, or the community, or the society, is more important than the needs of the individual. Which is where, in your chart, your Leo DC becomes the shadow of your Aquarius AC.
People see what they want to see when you have a Pisces AC. Your Ascendant is a permeable, reflective mirror, with shifting faces, wavering moods, and a look that changes often. Subconsciously, people project all their own thoughts and emotions onto you. If they have insecurities, fear, or hidden anger, they make you into an idiot, an antagonist, a target that can feel justified in attacking. If they are desperate for love and guidance, they fall in love with you and put you on a pedestal as lover, teacher, and spiritual guide. Or, if they are happy, confident, and tender-hearted, they simply see you as a friend. You get stuck with all kinds of labels - all of which a reflections on them, not an insight into who you really are as a person.
Despite the diverse reactions you get, you wear your tender heart on the outside of your body. You are dewy-eyed dreamer, a believer in magic and fantasy worlds, with a kind smile and soft features. With a Pisces AC that has no boundaries, you can be sensitive, emotional, intuitive to the needs of others and psychic in how much you know. But you can also get overwhelmed by the demands coming at you or the negativity that surrounds you, especially when it comes to jabs at you and your appearance. It is easier for you to "swim away" from conflict and confrontation than it is for you to set boundaries and firmly plant your feet in the dirt. More often than not, you would sooner collapse into tears than make somebody upset or uncomfortable. You are a martyr, a saint, a sacrificial lamb - suffering so that others can be happy, and finding solace in the peace your honourable pain brings to them.