Sun, Moon, Ascendant
      what really is the difference?

      Heather has written in with a question that expresses a confusion or
uncertainty that bothers many people who are interested in Astrology. Rob
Tillett, leading astrologer and founder of Astrology on the Web, responds
with a brief explanation of the way the signs, planets and other factors
interact to form the whole person.

      Heather writes: "Hello, I noticed on your site that you state the sun
sign as being our "inner nature". It has always been my thought and in all
books that I read that the moon sign is your inner nature and the sun sign
in the outward demeanour and then the rising sign is your character. If I am misunderstanding this, let me know... However, I don't see anything about
the moon signs on your site either. The moon sign is really a great part of
astrology. Could you add it? Sorry to pick apart, hope all is well!"

      Rob answers: Hi Heather and thanks for your thoughtful note.

      To understand ourselves and to make sense of the way our lives develop
is the ultimate purpose of the study of astrology. In all cases the whole
person must be addressed, but the astrological keys symbolise different
aspects of the whole person, depending on the side you are looking to
analyse and understand. Each one of these symbols (
Sun,Moon,Planets,Signs,Nodes,Houses,Aspects etc) stands for many things and
it's often hard to separate them, but here are the basics:

The Sun Sign
      Despite what you may have read, the Sun Sign is the mark of the
innermost structure of our character. It stands for the primary karmic
shaping that is to be undergone in this lifetime. We respond at the deepest
level through the filter of our Sun Sign, which is a mark of the soul's
developmental needs in this incarnation. Your Sign (Sun Sign) is the Zodiac
Sign that the Sun was in at the time and place that you were born. There are
twelve Signs of the Zodiac and each Sign is made up of thirty degrees,
making 360 degrees in the entire zodiac. The Sun travels about a degree a
day and so gets right through the zodiac in a twelve month period.


The Moon Sign
      The Moon Sign in terms of character stands for the outer, emotional
personality (product of past karma) and in association with Mercury, the
structure of the mental state. Naturally there are many other layers of
symbolism attached to the Moon, but so far as our own personality is
concerned, that's it in a nutshell. The Moon travels far more quickly
through the Zodiac, taking only about two and a half days to transit each
Sign. The Moon therefore completes her transit of the entire zodiac in
approximately one month.


The Rising Sign
      The Rising Sign or Ascendant governs the appearance and the
self-image, which in conjunction with the Moon and ruling planet expresses
the way others see you, and indeed (especially the Moon) tends to be the way
you see yourself. The Ascendant or Rising Sign is the sign rising over the
horizon at the moment of your birth. The Earth rotates once on her axis
every twenty-four hours, so taking just one day to have all of the signs
from Aries to Pisces rise over the horizon. Each sign takes about two hours
to pass across the horizon, so the time of birth is quite critical in
calculating the Ascendant.


The Ruling Planet
      The Ruling Planet is also significant and will often be more important
than the others, in terms of the experiences that are undergone. The Ruling
Planet is usually the designated planetary ruler of the Ascendant, but can
be another strong planet (such as the Sun-ruler, Moon-ruler, most elevated
etc) if the ascendant-ruler is weak by sign or aspect.


Planetary Aspects and Position make a huge difference too, as a
debilitated planet will have a quite different effect from the same planet
(Sun, Moon etc) when fortified. I should also say that each planet has a
primary influence at different times in the individual life, but this is
best established by a good astrologer, not a website. There is much more
that can be said, but it would take a book to do it in!


We do not have a Moon Sign directory on our site, because the Moon
changes signs so frequently that the vast majority of people have no idea
what their Moon Sign is. I suppose we could place a Moon Sign table on line,
but it would be hard for most people to follow, because it requires complex
calculation (which you would usually seek from an astrologer) to determine
the true position of the Moon at your birth. The same goes for Rising Sign,
but we have a rule of thumb calculator whereby anyone who is sufficiently
determined can get an idea, though of course it is better to have it
properly calculated. If you know your Moon Sign, the Sun Sign descriptions
on our site will fit well enough, but you should definitely get a proper,
personalised interpretation for full details.


In Indian (Vedic) Astrology, the Moon sign and Rising Signs are
considered primary, along with the Lunar Mansions. In Western Astrology, the
Sun has come to be considered primary, but I suspect that that is due to the
ease of identification (almost everyone knows their Sun Sign and it's
relatively easily ascertained, unless you are born "on the cusp"). It is
also due in modern times to the rise of Sun Sign astrology (Linda Goodman,
daily forecasts etc).


I trust this has helped to clarify matters. You can get a better grasp
of what the symbols mean by checking out more of the articles on this
website, especially starting with our Introduction to Astrology and
Relationships and following the links. There are some wonderful articles by
great writers here on Astrology on the Web, so you might like to check out
our Feature Articles or our Site Map.


Questions of this type are perhaps best addressed through our Forum,
which is accessible via the link at the bottom of just about every page on
the site. It's a sort of Question and Answer system, which is open to the
public and anyone can contribute both questions and answers.

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