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PUTTING ON YOUR EVERYDAY FACE

by

Zane Maser

The rising sign [of the astrological chart] is one of the most tender doorways into someone's psyche. This was where, as a child, the person was all wax and impressionable, where they first discovered the need for a mask, and so constructed one.
Dana Gerhardt

You may remember and hear in your mind the catchy little tune, 'to put on a happy face….' Ladies may relate to the daily make-up ritual of 'putting on your face' in the morning to feel presentable. Men know what it is like to show a strong, rational 'front' in the work-a-day world. My sister watched the change in demeanor as her husband donned his detached "policeman" persona (Latin for "mask") prior to leaving for his job.

In preparation for ritual, feasting, or battle, an American Indian painted his face as a personal portrait of a quality or talent he possessed that could be used in a communal way for the tribe. If the man put on a "false" face, then he was disgraced and "lost" face. And a Japanese Samurai warrior put a mask on the lower half of his face prior to battle—the mask serving as a fierce, impersonal cover that veiled his appearance. These are examples of the outer, stylistic ways we use to either enhance or disguise our deeper, essential nature (shown by our Sun sign) when we go outward to introduce ourselves to life.

These various forms of distinctive "packaging" illustrate what the Ascendant or "Rising" sign reveals in an astrological birth chart. The sign on our Ascendant is a personal statement of how the world first appears through our eyes and how the eyes of the world see us. Some call it the "front door" of our personality that opens widely or narrowly, depending on our first earthly beginning—our birth or the way we "hatch" —and how we are received into our early childhood environment. Thus, the place and moment of birth exactly records this start in life. We store this first impression in the memory cells of our body and tend to re-activate it at every new beginning. So, our birth tells a larger, underlying story about us than we may realize.

The feedback from our family and environment shapes and socializes our early identity and initial approach to life, in order for us to fit our prescribed "role" within the family. This is the origin of the survival adaptations we first incorporate into our being. However, the Ascendant is meant to be the starting point on the path of growth and self-unfoldment, where it can serve as an inner affirmation. The self-image shown by our Ascendant is a lifelong work-in-process. As we morph over the course of our life, honoring our unique gifts and mission, we can keep "birthing" our self into the fullness of why we are here—our Sun sign and its soul lesson.

The rising sign is on the eastern horizon of the chart or the "cusp" of the important First House, wherein we actively form an identity. The Ascendant also describes our physical body and projected appearance, as well as being known to suggest overall vitality and health. Based on the first breath, the degree of the Ascendant is precisely determined, and you begin to make your impression on the world through your spontaneous reactions, temperament, attitudes, habits, abilities, and weaknesses. Your Ascendant, as the sign dawning on the horizon at your "sunrise," encodes the distinctive energetic tone of your chart. The whole chart is thus structured from your own specific horizon or viewpoint, and all the planets in their signs are placed around the circle of your chart in accordance with this degree.

As such, the Ascendant is a highly significant point in your natal chart. It is almost as influential as the Sun sign, because the rest of the chart, which includes the various functions and interactions of the planets, is ideally focused and manifested through the "doorway" of the Ascendant. The sign of the Ascendant is crucial too because it determines which planet—say Mercury, Jupiter, or Neptune—is the "ruler" of your chart. This ruling planet (along with its sign, house position, and aspects) is truly noteworthy in your life. For example, Mars will generally give an energetic and independent thrust, whereas Saturn brings a cautious, serious, persistent tone. Furthermore, any planet within 5-6 degrees on either side of your Ascendant, any planet residing within the First house, or any planet(s) that aspects your Ascendant will add its special qualities to your self-projection.

If you consider your Ascendant to be the "title page" of your autobiography, what would you want it to say about you? Based on your title, would you want the pages of Your Book to reveal something relatively superficial, describing only the outer façade? Would you disclose some of the depths and richness of your emotional life (the Moon) and/or your spiritual quest (the Sun)? If dynamic Mars (energy and drive) is your ruling planet, would you dare to write about your sheer courage in the face of overwhelming odds in the demanding chapters of your life? What if Neptune (spiritual aspirations and vision) in Libra (partnerships) is only a few degrees from your Ascendant, would the pages of your life journey indicate some vagueness in your self-expression, difficult boundaries issues with others, a persistent lack of focus, or perhaps describe fantasies about your ideal soul mate? Ultimately, the goal of all life experience is to cross the threshold of death as an integrated individual. When the final page of Your Book is written, what face would you most want to have earned and thus wear on the next stage of your journey?

© Zane Maser 2005.
This article was published in Drumbeat, Journal of the White Eagle Lodge (Canada), Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 18-19 (2005).

For more information, visit The White Eagle Lodge, Canada

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