The position of the ascendant is calculated from the day, month, year, time and place of birth, Just like that of the sun or any other planet featuring in the sky charts. However, the position of the sun and other bodies can be looked up in the daily ephemerides, but the ascendant has to be calculated in a slightly different way.
The ascendant is one of the 360 degrees of the zodiac, rising on the eastern horizon at time of birth: it is mostly calculated depending on the time and place of birth. In other words,, the ascendant is the precise point in the Zodiac where the sun is rising, rose, or will rise, at the precise time and place of birth.
It might sound odd to say, ‘is rising, rose, or will rise’ but this is the key to the calculation. A birth can take place at any time during the day or night at midday or midnight in the morning all the afternoon, therefore, in the sky chart, sunrise occurs:
- At the time of birth: The ascendent is the precise point of the Zodiac when the sun is rising:
- Before the time of birth: The ascendent is the precise point of the Zodiac when the sun rose:
- After the time of birth:The ascendent is the precise point of the Zodiac when the sun will rise:
The descendent is diametrically opposite to this point, being in the degree of the Zodiac on the western horizon when the sun sets, has set or will set.
To summarise, one can say that the ascendant (sunrise) and the descendent (sunset) are found from an axis representing the horizon. For instance, the ascendant of a subject born at the time of sunrise is always situated the same zodiacal sign as the sun sign. On the other hand the ascendant of a subject born at the time of sunset is always situated in the sign opposed to the sun sign, which is then always close to the descendant.
Origins of the ascendant
The first astrologer-priests of Mesopotamia did not draw personal birth charts. They drew sky charts because they were looking at the subject as a whole rather than at the individual. Much later, Chaldean priests emigrated to Greece, taking with them the remarkable knowledge of mathematics, geometry and astronomy. One of them, Berose, a historian and astrologer, settled on the isle of Kos, where he founded the first school of astrology during the first century BC. It might have been there that the principles of genethliacal astrology (based on the position of the planets of the time of a subject’s birth) were first applied. It was certainly from this time onwards that they were commonly used and the search to discover a person’s destiny became an important concern which was going to leave its mark, firstly on the Greek, Roman, and Gallo-Roman mentalities and the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Still today, we commonly talk about the sun sign and ascendant.
Importance of the ascendant in a birth chart
In practice, it is from the position of the ascendant (or cusp of the first house) in the Zodiac, that the position of all the other houses can be found.
Its position in the birth chart is also very important because it tells about the appearance and make up – both physical and mental – of the person. It’s fascinating to discover that the general appearance, the shape and features of the face, the looks and walk can be defined according to the position of your ascendant in the birth chart.
Information is qualified though, by the situation of the ruling planet of the sign with the ascendant is found. For instance, in order to define the physical appearance and psychology of the subject is ascendant is in Sagittarius, you must take into account not only the characteristics provided by the ascendant of that sign, but also those revealed by the position of its ruling planet, Jupiter, which it will differ for each sign of the Zodiac.