Greetings! Welcome back to Journeys for another month. This month at the request of a patron I am writing a two part message about planets in conjunction or aspect with the ascendant. This month I cover the two Lights and the rocky worlds Mercury, Venus and Mars. I hope you will enjoy!
The ascendant is an area of the chart which varies from location to location and minute to minute, and which determines the boundaries of other house cusps in many house systems, particularly the equal house system. The simplest way to understand the ascendant is to look directly east of where you are right now, or just watch the dawn one morning – whatever you can see close to the horizon where land meets sky is at the ascendant or part of it.
With a little thought you will quickly realise that our Sun appears here every morning, so that if you have the Sun on the ascendant it means you were born at dawn. The Sun doesn’t stay here for very long, however, as it begins its climb up the stairway of the heavens and has moved on within an hour or two. Sometimes, depending upon its size and position in the sky, you can also see the Moon rising here during the day or night. This is an important distinction to make and observe – the Sun can only be on the ascendant at dawn, while the Moon can be on the ascendant at any time of day or night, and is in fact more dramatic at night. The same is true of all the other objects used in astrology – only the Sun is tied to the ascendant at dawn and is never seen there at night (wow if you do!), but the other objects are more visible there at night.
The ascendant gives us a rising sign, a sign of the zodiac that is in the east at the time we are born, rising into the sky. The ascendant is a point of focus in the horoscope, like the lens of an eye or pair of spectacles through which we see everything, but this is only the tip of a bigger structure with much to offer us. The truth is that the ascendant is always one of the most powerfully sensitive areas of the zodiac and along with the Sun and Moon can be considered one of a trinity of astrological factors upon which the expression of an entire chart is formulated. In terms which are readily accessible to hermetic thinkers we can say that the Sun represents our individual spirit or temporal mental body, the Moon represents our personal soul or astral awareness and the ascendant represents the physical body and its awareness. Yet because physical matter depends upon the animating principle of the astral and the mental to give it life, the ascendant really has no physical awareness of its own (it is not an object floating in space like the Lights) and is instead more like a filter through which other things pass in both directions. These things colour it and give it a nature while also forcing the rest of our astrology to conform to its perception.
Diving deeper into this, the ascendant is like the navel in the physical body which marks the moment when we became independent physical beings, separated from the flesh of our mother, but it is within the astra-mental body rather than in the physical body that this navel is located. It ties the astral, mental and physical awareness together in time and space, and this is why it is so incredibly sensitive in terms of astrology. This function of the ascendant is clearer when we understand that the time of our birth and our location on the globe are what determine what the ascendant is – if the zodiac were a clock the rising degree of the zodiac is a recording of the time and space in which we were born, the time we became physically independent and started our own unique life journey. Before this time we are aware and alive, but inside of another physical form. This is why the ascendant and planets rising there describe what is happening in the room as we are being born.
This leads us to one the most important understandings of the ascendant I can bring to you – it is our embodied experience of the now moment, the eternally moving experience of being present and physically alive. This moment continues to emerge once birth occurs until we die, and it is all ours, 100% unique and ultimately not completely shareable. Your string of now moments leading up to the present moment in which you are reading this may have some similarities with some of the now moments I experienced leading up to writing this, but both are utterly unique and will never be duplicated. Sit with this for a muinute or two and let it really sink in.
However, it is or should be very clear that there are broad groups of people among us who have similar approaches to how they interact with the now moment. Some of us may come at life seeing it as a vast world of feelings and emotions that we have to navigate through, both ours and others. Another group of people throw questions at life and must navigate the maze of answers in search of truth. Then there are those people that look at life as a world of duties, responsibilities and things that need to be done while another large group of people see their life as an expression their own identity and seek to impress their will upon it. In astrological terms these are the 4 Elements interacting with the ascendant. Zodiac signs add more specific qualities and show how people can find common interests in how they process the world within these broader categories, for example two people who have the Earth sign of Capricorn rising on the ascendant will find that they not only perceive the present moment in terms of a string of duties and responsibilities (an Earth sign is rising) but that they also share some of the Capricorn assessment of the now moment, for example they might both be incredibly patient with waiting for things to unfold.
Part of what differentiates a rising sign from a Sun or Moon sign is that the former is far more adaptable than the latter and is therefore made responsive to the Sun and Moon signs as well as to other influences which shape it. This is where things get interesting for astrologers because a person can have any Sun sign and any Moon sign with any sign on the ascendant. The blending of these three indicators, this essential astrological trinity, gives rise to a potential combination of 1,728 archetypes (goodbye forever, 12 Sun signs) which form the basis of all astrological chemistry. This does not even consider the position of the Lights in the temples/houses, which send the combinations through the roof to reach almost a quarter of a million possible combinations, and if you then add in every other planet we use…Thus we can see that even at this very basic level of astrology, the complexity is vast and so come to understand the task involved in knowing the self at even just this basic level of human nature. Spiritual seed is planted in the astrologers awareness by this realisation as they come to comprehend the sacredness of every life. The flower of life blossoms ever anew and in infinite forms, but it is ALL the same life, the life of the universe.
Given this reality and getting back to planets on the ascendant, there is a further factor in astrology which can greatly change the way we express our ascendant, and that is when planets or the Lights are at the ascendant, rising in the east at the time when we draw our first breath and become independent physical beings. These objects impress themselves onto the first moment of life and so become intertwined with our own identity and *never* vacate the now moment, at least while we are awake. The simplest example here will help – let’s imagine someone born with the Sun in Pisces born at dawn, meaning that Pisces is also rising on the ascendant. Let’s also imagine that the Moon is somewhere else, say Aquarius. What will happen in this case is that (very probably, because other astrological factors can weigh in here) greater emphasis will be placed on Pisces than on Aquarius because there is more weight and focus there, and how that pans out will depend on what else is happening in the chart but the basic reality will be that the person will identify far less with their Moon in Aquarius and much more with their Sun and ascendant in Pisces. Additionally, on top of the identification with Pisces, the person will feel a strong identification with the solar rather than with the lunar. The ascendant will always colour the outlook on life with the Sun in Pisces qualities and the person will immediately recognize the Pisces side of their nature. When they read about Pisces in a Sun sign book, it will immediately resonate,. However if we instead imagine that it is the Moon in Pisces on the ascendant and the Sun is in Aquarius, then the Moon and Pisces will gain an edge over the Sun in our identity and basic astrological chemistry will shift towards those qualities. Thus, when we come to look up our Aquarius Sun sign, we might not identify very much with it and conclude that astrology is a load of garbage, but this would be from looking just at the surface of it. For a long while I did not understand this, but now I think I do – astrology touches the Mystery, and the Mystery has subtle ways of protecting itself from the uninitiated.
What this means for the ascendant is that a planet rising can dramatically alter the tone of the zodiac sign that is rising, so that a person with Cancer rising which is usually soft and sensitive and caring might not display that if they have Mars rising in Cancer because the power of a planet is superior to the power of a sign. In this case it is not so much a Cancer/Water quality that the person will identify with, but a Martian one that somehow tries to dominate it. Sometimes this can make the astrological analysis easier because the nature of the planet just reinforces the nature of the sign that is rising, especially if that planet rules that sign, but in other cases it complicates things. What is true in all cases however is that the planetary force that is rising is stronger and more dominant than any zodiac sign.
Because the ascendant covers our interaction with the present moment and our ability to identify ourselves to others it is often referenced when looking at the way people dress, the colours they like to wear and the fashions and fads they identify with to others, the relationship we have to being in a physical body and the condition of our health, the way we initiate and begin things and what we lead with in life as well as how others perceive us when we walk into a room, revealing that these things are all directly related. This means that the planet rising has a powerful impact on the first impressions we make on other people, on the person we identify ourselves as being, on our processing of life and our holistic well-being. In the sections that follow I will talk about how each of the planets used in astrology interact with the ascendant when they are rising, how they alter the way we express our identity and what we identify with, how they might influence our health and how they lead us towards interaction with the world. While the focus will be on conjunctions to the ascendant you could also use this information as a starting point for analysing a planet in some other aspect to the degree of the ascendant, as all the aspects of the ascendant must be taken together in its evaluation.
With any conjunction to the ascendant there is an urgent need to express the planet in everyday life. It is widely known that any planet rising in the east is visually swollen or enlarged (think of what a harvest moon looks like, for example), but this magnifying effect is commonly thought to be caused by celestial or atmospheric effects. Actually, the less known truth is that it is caused by human perception, by the human brain and the mechanisms of human sight – its an optical illusion. In terms of astrology, a conjunction to the ascendant is an extremely powerful influence that is intrinsic to our self expression and cannot easily be distanced from. Just like the way objects appear to be magnified by the horizon, planets in this place become magnified in our lives, they are literally and/or metaphorically ‘in our faces’ the whole time, meaning that they can reveal themselves in the shape of our body and our face, in things which are wired into our biology, or simply assume so much prominence in our self expression that we come to completely identify ourselves with them and continually interact with the outside world through them. Depending on the nature of the planet, how we handle our close relationship to it and the condition of its aspects, this can be beneficial or problematic. Everything depends on how well we get along with the relevant planetary intelligence.
As explained above if you have the Sun rising on the ascendant it means that you are born at sunrise. The ascendant is a place of power where the charts greatest output lies, and so this is a very radiant conjunction that releases solar energy. Born at sunrise. you will carry the energy of the morning with you throughout your life, with all that this entails.
The effect of magnifying the Sun in our identity causes the Sun sign nature to shine outwardly in our external appearance, giving it a powerful place in the chart from which to go into the world, and this can result in both problems and benefits. The typical feature we note, however, is the literal ‘sunny disposition’. Note that this is a disposition, a demeanor or mask, like all things of the ascendant it is a formally and consciously adopted mode of expression that may not accord with our true nature. That radiant, sunny disposition can shield a tortured creature.
The process for sunrise people to go through is one of obtaining some distance from the solar dimension of awareness so that they can perceive it more objectively and with less identification. Once this is achieved, the drawbacks of this relationship are removed. In essence they need to become more objective about their own Sun sign because they see themselves in some way as its living embodiment and this perception will eventually blind them as surely as gazing into the heart of the Sun will.
The Sun as the symbol of individual conscious being is the source of life and light in our astrology. It is the star of life within us, the radiant jewel of consciousness, and the aspects it is involved in relate to what we are conscious of or not conscious of and so circumscribe the qualities which are expressed by our own living light. They display the fundamental characteristics of our spirit, our individual mental body. When we are born at sunrise with the Sun rising, our Sun sign characteristics are doubly emphasised because a conduit in time and space is opened which allows the expression of the solar sphere to manifest itself in physical form. This is the magic we sense at sunrise, as the world comes to life at the touch of the light of Sol, and we feel and see a certain vibrant energy or spirit pervading the world. The animals – who have no trouble perceiving this magic – respond to it with morning songs and activities which serve to herald it in harmony. The plants open and receive the majesty of a distant star, instinctively responding to the touch of the solar radiance. The spirit of the moment manifests itself in a coming to life, an animation as diurnal creatures awaken and become active.
Being born at this time captures the essence of this magic in your bodies and allows the spirit or consciousness to more fully inhabit the material world and bring it to life through the physical body, it impresses the qualities of the mental body fully into the physical body so that the two become intricately related, and this means that the body expresses the spirit more completely, taking on a form and kind that is a clear expression of the solar self. Additionally, things wake up around us – there is a warmth and a creative energy to our presence, a brightness when we arrive. We don’t even have to try because this phenomena happens all the time without any effort as an extension of our existence. We easily attract attention and draw things into gravitational orbit around us, so in many cases we have something like a charisma or a charm or humour which facilitates this. Many people with this placement have a powerful ability to cheer others up. The key here is that we have a commanding power of some kind that cannot be switched off, and it is a warming one.
So this aspect denotes a direct manifestation of the conscious self upon the outside world and environment, a presence that makes itself felt. We normally radiate self confidence and possess strong leadership qualities and our health and physical constitution are boosted by the vital life energy continually conferred by the Sun, which warms us and keeps the process of combustion in our body robust. This adds to the dryness in the body and can therefore result in problems with a lack of moisture and absorbency. The heart is made stronger and the eyes brighter (even when they are dark) and the complexion less pale.
Greater physical energy and vitality is provided to the chart and these people can find that they can physically keep going long after they expected to collapse, over and over again, but that this drains their spirit of its colour and life. The other cost of all this energy is that it becomes difficult for them to switch off and so they may have difficulties just relaxing, getting to sleep or resting. The awareness is so awake and wired into physical existence in the here and now (which gives the ability to figure out what’s going on in the body and what it needs) that detaching from life and surrendering to the unconscious can become more challenging (it may be more difficult for them to separate their mental body from the physical body for example). When they do sleep there is still a strong tendency for the body to be semi-active, which means they can end up thrashing in their sleep, burning up, sleep walking, or just having extremely vivid and colourful dreams.
Psychologically the sunrise people like to shine in whatever they do, and this is one of their best paths to self-discovery. So long as they are wary of the urge to command attention (to be the only star in the sky) and check the involvement of ego (meaning, pride in themselves), they should be quite likable to most people because they radiate warmth and can have the effect of energising other people with their spirit. In the hands of a trained magician this aspect can be of great benefit in any magic involving the vital energy, especially healing, because it assists a more substantial accumulation of vital energy and the ability to radiate it (for example, into a room full of sick people). For obvious reasons it also helps with work involving the Sun sphere, especially its evocation into a Magic Triangle.
The urge for the gaining of recognition for our own individuality and the desire to be important will filter itself through the sign rising on the horizon, so that the person will want to be seen in the way described by the Sun sign. Curiously, even though they are easily seen for who they are by others they will not be sure if they are seen this way and will have uncertainty about how others do see them. The reason for this is that they are blinded by the Sun; it is in their face and projects or radiates outward from there, with them looking on from behind it. Everything they see in the world is illuminated by and so filtered through the perception of the solar nature, and this means they are too close to their own solar nature to regard it objectively. They can’t see what others make of them and they have equal trouble or more seeing themselves for who they really are, because everything is translated through their own individual light of being in a way that is blinding. So while it is easy for others to see our essential nature (the Sun sign nature is visible in first impressions), it is not easy for these people to see this understanding, and changes in their own identity can be harder to perceive.
All the problems described in this discussion can be remedied and prevented through work with the Sun key and 1st temple key, by following the solar map or by employing the Sun as the translator of astral light; all these methods will develop your connection to the Suns essential principles and can be of great effect in transforming it. As the connection to the Sun becomes free of these hindrances health is made stronger, our body is imbued with vitality and our constitution becomes more robust, so that we will rarely become sick and when we do our recuperative powers will be good. Honesty and integrity – being true to your own identity, your own self – are some of the virtues you must continually introduce into your self expression, so that it becomes a more brilliant and beautiful manifestation of your inner nature. Overall you must become conscious of the fact that you are a spirit inhabiting a body and in each and every moment operate with the awareness that this is so in order to bring about the full benefit of your natural connection to the Sun.
Faces: Queen Victoria (Gemini), Prince Albert (Virgo), Alexander Graham Bell (Pisces), Claude Debussy (Leo), Lyndon B. Johnson (Virgo), Jimmy Hoffer (Aquarius), Ingmar Bergman (Cancer), Benny Hill (Aquarius), Peter Sellers (Virgo), Alan Whicker (Leo), Johnny Carson (Scorpio rising with Sun in Libra), Miles Davis (Gemini), Gene Wilder (Gemini), Barry Humphries (Aquarius), Bruce Lee (Sagittarius), Olivia Newton John (Virgo rising with a Libra), David Copperfield (Virgo) and Freddie Mercury (Virgo).
This aspect emphasizes and fuses the energies of the Moon with our embodied identity, so that our aura is permeated by lunar vibrations. The activities of the Moon are magnified, focused and intensified. They become essential to our self expression. In our identity we are the Moon – there is no separation. Our astral awareness – our ability to operate on hunches and instincts and impressions – is thus promoted to a more prominent part of our awareness, we are sensitive and intuitive, and will find that others respond readily to us personally. These souls instinctively sense what is happening in the astral, what people are feeling and what is going on between things at the personal level, and are so sensitive to this that it can alter their own moods without them correctly sourcing it – it feels like them but is in fact something they are encountering in their environment. They may not really see the extent to which all this applies because it is right in front of their face. They will learn much about themselves through exploring their moods, especially if they also make a conscious effort to study the lunar calendar and pay special attention to when the Moon is in their rising sign each month. To such people the secrets of the astral world reveal themselves willingly.
Unlike the disc of the Sun which is never varying in its size the shape of the Moon is given the appearance of constant flux from dark to full and back to dark again. When the Moon is completely dark or ‘New’ it is because it is between the Earth and the Sun and so all of the sunlight is falling upon the side of the Moon facing away from the Earth. Effectively she disappears from sight entirely because she is so close to the Sun in terms of her position in the sky that she is lost in the blinding solar corona of light for a few days. At sunrise on these days both the Sun and the Moon will be on the ascendant and so there will be a triple conjunction of these three factors. Most of the time this will happen in a single sign of the zodiac but sometimes it will be spread out over two because the Sun is near the beginning or the end of a sign, but this is uncommon. In the much more common cases of a New Moon rising on the ascendant the emphasis on one particular zodiac sign is often extremely strong and recognizable. It is also often extremely recognizable when there is a Full Moon rising on the ascendant, simply because the Full Moon is filled with energy and visibility. So the particular phase of the Moon is an important factor in the quality of lunar energy the Moon rising person is working with. Essentially, they have fused a specific lunar field to their body in order to explore it very personally. This unique property of the Moon adds a further layer of subtlety to its interpretation, a factor which must be considered in addition to its sign and aspects and the temples it rules in the chart. It gives the Moon a far broader range of expression than any other object in astrology, which combines with its swift motion to aptly embody the flux of the astral realm.
The Moon rising personifies as a touch of lunacy in the face, especially in the light of the eyes, although it is not usually of the menacing kind. It confers an instictive need for independence and autonomy, but at the same time cravings to be cared for and nurtured. To these people personal self-expression is a way of nurturing the identity, in other words they understand that life is a journey of personal self-discovery, a wisdom distilled from the soul’s long and ingrained experience. Deeply private and sensitive, in times of crisis they may instinctively withdraw and spend time on their own, getting to know their own feelings again. They are unconsciously responsive and instinctively react to situations very sensitively, at times overly so, and will need to obtain detachment and a more consciously aware sense of their immediate surroundings and personal response reactions to them. There is an unusual sensitivity to their own physical body and they are in tune with its changing needs, and its health is quite sensitive to the astral plane. Their moods powerfully inform their flesh and its countenance, and the mood is often determined by undercurrents in the environment.
When the Moon is here the soul is quite strongly consciously influenced by the Magnetic, emotional and gravitational tides of the Moon, and are often fluctuating through moods to reflect different moments and environments. This can put the awareness in touch with life in a very intimate and personal way, allowing the soul to feel the mood in a room, the hidden emotional rhythms in a poem, the cyclical dance of societies, to sense the emotional undercurrents in an exchange, etc. The rhythm and the pulse of life is felt physically moving through the body, and the needs and urges represented by the Moon are always present because they are a fundamental part of the self expression in action. In fact the health and the wholeness of being depend upon a conscious, creative output of the Moon. If the soul does not do this, strain is placed on the body areas connected with the rising sign as the awareness will feel the burden of being increasingly cut off from life.
Generally these people are very easy or simple people to get to know in the sense that when others first meet them (ascendant) they show their Moon qualities, a side of our nature we often keep private. What this means is that these people are private, insular beings who still show a lot of personal qualities when first met. They give of the personal self to the world in a direct way, and must often keep doing so, because it is who they really need to be. People can meet them and be struck by a very friendly, personal manner, the way they come across as someone who is what they are, someone they can trust because they actually do what it says on the label. But even so they are so emotionally vulnerable that it can take time to break through the initial shell of privacy they shroud themselves in. The Moon rising can make us a bit of a shy wallflower. This results in someone many people think they really know well personally, but whom few actually do. Yet at the same time as it feels emotionally vulnerable enough to keep people at bay, this Moon will also crave to be cared for and nurtured by another. This internal conflict can create emotionally rooted dis-ease and problems in relationships.
If you are lucky enough to be a moonrise soul, whenever the Moon is Full or New and in your rising sign or its opposite (about four times a year, when the Sun is also present in those signs), then the influence of lunar energy will be stronger for you. If you are a magician you can make optimal use of these times in any work with the Magnetic Fluid or the magic of the Moon sphere. With your astral senses you will be able to more deeply feel the ‘pull’ of the Moon over your astral materia. If you know how to sense them, beings will draw near, beckoned by their own curiosity. These can be good times for looking more thoroughly at the black and white mirrors with the help of these beings. You will also experience a strong point of contact with lunar energy whenever the 1st temple key is activated.
In the end this is the path of a soul that is seeking to know the soul and the secrets of adventures in the astral wonderland, a mystery that will not stop in its quest at self comprehension, especially in the area of instinct, reaction and the need to delve into the past and to feel right about ourselves. It is a life of integrating and finally uniting the Moon principle with the embodied identity. The soul does not clearly see the degree of its own emotionality because it is pressed right up against it – the astral awareness is so present that it interferes with our evaluation of people opinions and their motives become unclear, and the sensitivity we have to being loved and accepted and fitting in ends up distorting our self image, so we lose sight of who we really are through just reacting to what people are feeling. We need therefore to take a step way back here and put things lunar into their proper perspective – we can become ‘possessed’ by the spirit of the Moon, with all that this entails. The key to avoiding that fate is to know our own personal shit so thoroughly that we can never conflate it with what belongs to others.
Faces: Queen Victoria (Gemini), Mary II of England (Aquarius), Paul Guaquin (Leo rising with Moon in Virgo), Isambard Kingdom Brunel (Sagittarius), H.G. Wells (Aquarius), Lyndon B. Johnson (Virgo), Phil Collins (Libra rising with Moon in Scorpio), Barbara Cartland (Aries), Audrey Hepburn (Aquarius rising with Moon in Pisces), Yehudi Menuhin (Capricorn), Madonna (Virgo – “Like a Virgin”), George Harrison (Libra rising with Moon in Scorpio), James Earl Jones (Capricorn), Lewis Carroll (Sagittarius), Douglas Fairbanks (Scorpio), Charles Chaplin (Scorpio), Dionne Warwick (Taurus), Hugo Chavez (Cancer), Susan Sarandon (Capricorn), Lucille Ball (Capricorn).
When Mercury is the rising planet, thinking and intellectual behaviour can become so life affirming that they become too dominant, leading us in ways that diminish meaning rather than enriching it. The sign qualities of Mercury become the major characteristics of our embodied identity and rise to prominence in the character, and we are more likely to display some of its virtues like increased intelligence, the persuasive charm of a silver tongue, astute analytical thinking, aptitude with puzzles and words, etc. This often makes us a quick witted, intelligent, wordy, talkative, changeable (mercurial) ideas person. We become adept at navigating the world of thought and the mental plane, but can become trapped by the infinite splendour of the Mercury sphere. If too much importance is attached to any idea it will grow until it becomes our entire world, we will lose touch with our feelings and be subjected to the cutting edge of Mercury, which leaves us exhausted, bewildered, mentally fried by the ongoing onslaught of mental stimulation. Many of the more powerful spirits of this sphere cause insanity, madness and other forms of mental trauma simply through the ideas and notions they expose the frail human mind to.
The universe of ideas is a beautiful, spectacular thing; as David Lynch says “a new idea is like a present on Christmas morning”. It’s a boundless realm teeming with countless living beings, all of which communicate to our minds specific thoughts when they interact with our awareness. The vast majority of these beings that we commune with live on the surface levels of this realm, by which I mean the areas of the realm of ideas which overlap with our physical realm. Everything in the physical realm begins with an idea, but most of the ideas that are traded between us and these other beings are commonplace ones – we think about taking a shower before we have a shower, or driving the car before we get into it. However, the deeper we go into this beautiful, spectacular realm, the more we find ourselves encountering truly exotic and bewildering ideas which have artistic and creative power and which communicate profound and deep truths about the nature of the universe and its organisation. People who have Mercury rising are equipped with a kind of atmospheric suit which allows them to venture deeper into these dimensions then ordinary mortals. This “suit” can be equipped with a variety of instruments suited for interactions with specific classes of beings, for example one person’s Mercury rising may equip them to deal with the sciences or with a specific science, while another may equip them to deal with mechanics or engineering. Such a suit can be outfitted to work with any kind of idea, any kind of knowledge, and so the variety of specific types of Mercury rising is literally infinite.
Whatever the specific attitude or mental skill is, the person with Mercury rising will understand how to increase their knowledge. In fact, the present moment will continually present them with more information and data with which they can do so and with opinions they can debate with others. For this reason they make excellent researchers and archivists, and are frequently a font of information on the subjects which they specialise in. Much of this will be trivia or seemingly trivial, since they make very little effort in the area of gatekeeping to exclude information preferring to gather as much as possible so that they do not miss any potentially significant detail. Nevertheless, it is quite a gift to encounter someone who is a walking encyclopaedia of facts about a topic you share an interest in and these people are generally treasured within certain sectors of the intellectual community.
Communication is often a vital ingredient in the way this person sees themselves and expresses their identity in the environment around them. If these people are not born to be talkative they are born to be in love with words as a means of conveying ideas to others. It’s one thing to get a great catch, to hook onto an idea that is truly beautiful and to be led forward in exploring it, but it’s quite another to be able to share that with other people. One might say the former is spellbinding, but the latter is transcendent. So the people of Mercury rising usually either love to talk or to read and write, but there are a few who use their bodies but not their voices directly as a means of communication to achieve the same ends, such as dancers or mimes. Even if other chart factors cause the person to be less talkative, there is going to be something notable about the sound of their voice (James Earl Jones is the perfect example of this).
I said previously that we traded with the beings of the Mercury sphere, and this was not a metaphor. In fact, the commerce of ideas is the primary currency which drives the evolutionary progress of our universe and it is probably for this reason that the planet Mercury is also associated with business and commerce, especially in the current age where the value of information is growing. Speculation upon which ideas are growing in popularity and which are not or which ideas are pristine ideas and which are not are popular pastimes of Mercury rising people, but in some of them the focus is on literal stock markets. So in some people with Mercury rising we see a special gift in business matters, especially in persuasion and planning, and in some people the combination of great knowledge and persuasive power become tempting aphrodisiacs of the mind. The tendency for Mercury to behave like a trickster or to bend the rules will tend to be used to great advantage, and in extreme cases Mercury rising produces liars who come to believe their own narrative and their own PR.
Physically Mercury rising symbolises increased nerve impulses to the brain (increasing activity overall but especially in the cerebral cortex) and enhances the sensitivity of the nervous system down the spine so that the reflex actions of the body become sharper and the nerves edgier, more responsive to the brain and its thoughts. This means that thoughts can be carried throughout the body very quickly by the nervous system, communicating rapidly to cells and organs, resulting in better co-ordination and responses, as well as facilitating mind over body magic. This is a blessing for dancers and others who rely on dexterity or who seek the union of mind and matter, such as certain martial artists, but also for anything connected to hand-eye co-ordination and the combination of mental and physical focus. The problem with this is that if this is continuous and ongoing, as is the case with any conjunction to the ascendant, the lack of an off switch leads to a wearing down of the nervous system more quickly, and to tiredness and mental-physical exhaustion. These people are wired. They get edgy and nervous when they are overloaded. Every thought they have is transmitted through the nervous system in electrical pulses that can eventually do damage, especially if the mental nature of that pulse is informed with the idea of dysfunction, worry or anxiety. These people can become ill through thinking too much and through stressing too much. They can also weaken their health through clumsiness and by being accident prone when their mental energy is very high and lacks an outlet, such as when in a panic or when driving or travelling under duress.
So they need to learn how to observe the activity of thought in their minds and often to turn its volume down, and this will help them gain some distance from Mercury so that they can regard it more objectively and its influence over their actions slows down. At this point they will have learned to separate from Mercury slightly so that they do not instantly identify with its ideas so much but their connection will still be very strong and so they will still receive the benefit of that, just without the drawbacks. Being able to observe how your own thought processes develop and where they come from will also lead to deeper insight and a more complete picture of the connections between the ideas.
More importantly this constitutes a defence against falling into the trap of the enchantment of the Mercury sphere, the fascination with new ideas, which can lead us along from one new idea to another, never really grasping anything too deeply because it is replaced by another before that can happen, and in this way we become enslaved by our own fascination with everything that Mercury represents to the point where we can now see nothing without it. We can also intellectualize everything so much that we cannot have real emotional connection, or real physical connection. Evolving and mastering our relationship to Mercury through the Mercury key has enormous benefits on the life as a whole for these people and should be a priority. Transformation of their relationship with Mercury is called for to unlock the potential of the mind and to use it to advance human understanding in answering the biggest and most puzzling questions. Until then this is an aspect which keeps Mercury rising people on the move physically and mentally, gathering perspective, and so it can keep life interesting, fresh and stimulating. Once they have learned to turn down the volume and frequency of thoughts and addressed any negative qualities of their ascendant the virtues of Mercury flow through their embodied identity into the life of everyone they meet and every mind that connects with theirs, whether that is through their spoken words or their written works. They make everyone who knows them more intelligent. Navigation through the world of ideas as they emerge into the present moment so that we quickly become aware of them or can reach other people with them is the primary characteristic of this placement of Mercury.
Faces: Johannes Brahms (Aries), Alexander Graham Bell (Pisces), Alexander Fleming (Cancer), T.S. Eliot (Libra), Lyndon B. Johnson (Virgo), Jimmy Hoffer (Aquarius), Paul Newman (Capricorn), Johnny Carson (Scorpio), Michel Foucault (Scorpio), Grace Kelly (Scorpio), Charlotte Rampling (Aquarius), Freddie Mercury (Virgo), Madonna (Virgo) and Tom Waits (Sagittarius).
Where Mercury rising thrusts us into the world of ideas and the beings which generate them or embody them, Venus rising throws us deep into the oceanic realm of emotions and feelings. Here the danger is not so much of being enchanted and spellbound by dazzling ideas but seduced and beguiled by the whims of powerful muses and longings. With Venus rising on the ascendant the embodied identity is intricately defined by what it feels and by what others feel about it. The journey of life in this case leads us through tangled forests of feelings with mysterious origin and to adventure with the vagaries of love. If Mercury rising is a puzzling journey Venus rising is an inexplicable one, because while an intellectual question can have a satisfactorily if not complete answer, there really is no definitive answer to the call of the heart – love is its own answer.
Venus rising makes it easier to fall in love and to express love as well as to engage in relationship of all kinds, not just romantic ones, because there is greater facility with the world of emotions in general. The flow of the emotional world through the present moment is captured and becomes available to the awareness of these people, giving them a greater advantage in all matters where this is a factor. In general life this is of inestimable value in personal relationships because it helps to untangle the often messy and confusing experience of emotional experiences, but it is also an asset in specific cases such as in counseling, the arts and the entertainment industry. The ability to engage others on an emotional level flows into the world and supplies permission to others to open up emotionally where they might not have otherwise done so, who then encourage others to open up, and so the power of the spirits or muses which are moving through such a person can be awe inspiring. Just as with Mercury rising there can be a specific focus for the Venus skill with appropriate apparatus for dealing with it, such as dancing or singing or playing a particular musical instrument, and often this will be shown by the zodiac sign Venus is in and other aspects which she receives.
The embodiment of Venus leads to some of the most beautiful physical bodies that walk upon the surface of the planet. Venus rising is simply beautiful to behold, and here I am just not talking about classical beauty but more essentially about inner beauty and the spirit of lovingness. Certainly there are many people with astonishingly aesthetic appearances who have Venus rising to thank for it, often in the smile and in the eyes there will be a loveliness that others recognise but in typical Venus fashion cannot quite bottle in words, but the more essential feature is that the person radiates an acceptance of what others feel and of what they feel which puts others at ease and which unruffles feathers where they feel ruffled. The magic of this Venus is that it can bring peace as well as love simply through being fully present in the now moment and expressing what is coming through.
Venus rising can lead to searching for some kind of perfect relationship or perfect justice and fairness in life which leads to disappointment when it proves to be elusive. The conditioning of Venus rising leads us to see love and affection as being vital to a healthy expression of identity but the problem is that our society does not foster a feeling of loving affection but one of competitiveness and Martian desire, so the identity is left feeling bereft of what it needs and must somehow generate that feeling around it. For this reason these people tend to be very choosy of the quality of the people that they let into their emotional world and then in some cases this can become a kind of snobbishness where some people are deemed to be too low down the social ladder to be part of the exclusive circle. These attitudes can become quite toxic and drive genuinely good people away while leaving us surrounded by sycophants who say what we want to hear. Another trap with Venus rising is that we can become addicted to feeling good things to such a degree that we refuse to feel any bad things and so do not deal with our darker emotions. Obviously, this will come back to bite us painfully in the end.
Appearance wise, apart from the good-looking trend Venus rising tends to dress to impress and is frequently attracted to adornment of its body with jewelries or make up, with regular style overhauls or haircuts. As far as Venus rising is concerned putting your best impression first is extremely important and that includes not just your dress and appearance but also your manners and degree of politeness. There are only a very few Venus rising people who swear profusely because such language is too coarse. There is no need to be uncivil. Whatever the appearance is it is designed to lead with an emotional impression and to stir that specific emotional impression, to generate a feeling in the eye of the beholder. It has the power of glamour.
The need to express and channel the spirits of Venus often leads to people who become involved in art or in some work which permits them a degree of emotional expression, but if their journey through life does not take them into such a role they will generally carve this out around them in some other way that allows them to let go with what they feel. Art and relationships are not the only ways in which you can express our emotional selves, of course, and so any activity which is pleasurable will allow these people to offload their excess of Venus. One person I knew, for example, found this outlet through playing role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. The emotional release came from being able to play different characters much like an actor experiences. The simplest and most passive way to offload your Venus energy is to go to a movie or watch a show, but for this to really be effective has to engage you on an emotional level and not just be a boring three hour slugfest in brightly coloured tights. The catharsis has to release or trigger a strong feeling in order to genuinely connect us with the Venus sphere. One of the dangers here however is that we will come to identify our own selves with something artistic and that this identification will come too easily and with problems. It is one thing to go and see the story told in sound and light and connect it with your own reality, and quite another to mistake your own reality for the one depicted in the sound and light. This is a far bigger problem in our society then we recognise at this time, as the sophistication of the technology behind our storytelling is advancing rapidly towards the point where it becomes indistinguishable from so-called “real experiences”. This is a situation we will all have to deal with in the future, but for Venus rising it has been an ongoing problem throughout history. The power of the emotionally charged imagination is profound and has led many astray from true spiritual realisation, which is part of the agenda of Venus rising.
The sign in which Venus and the ascendant fall will colour the embodied identity so that it will seek to bring harmony and beauty into its surroundings through that sign, and the presence of the person in the now moment will ooze sweet reasonableness, friendliness and charm. The love of pleasure, however, may make for an over indulgent or complacent approach to engaging in life, and a saccharine, vain outlook which others find too naive and narcissistic, too superficial to take seriously. Gender issues can also complicate both Venus and Mars rising. It really is a man’s world still, and if you doubt that consider the difference between how much more challenging it would be to have a groundbreaking idea in physics and to be taken seriously for it as a sexy blond woman than as an average male. In the former case you definitely have to put up with a lot of attention that you would not get as the latter. The curse of Venus rising is often that ones own beauty or attractiveness is a distraction from what you really have to offer and that you have to overcome the unwanted attention of others.
Faces: T.S. Eliot (Libra), Clark Gable (Capricorn), Gregory Peck (Gemini), Judy Garland (Cancer), Paul Newman (Capricorn), Gore Vidal (Scorpio), Grace Kelly (Scorpio), Danny DeVito (Sagittarius rising with Venus in Capricorn), Bill Clinton (Libra), Oliver Stone (Scorpio), Jeremy Irons (Leo), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Cancer), David Cameron (Libra), Shirley Conran (Leo), Edward VI of England (Virgo) and H.P. Lovecraft (Libra).
Severity, directness, a cutting approach to life and forceful thrust direct the Mars rising identity. Mars is the god of war and victory in combat. His spirit is competitive, militaristic, masculine, brash, hot – headed, and emboldened. Mars is also extremely passionate and coupled frequently with Venus. From these mythic archetypes, we associate Mars with desire, assertiveness, courage, anger, force and passion, violence, heat and flame, and these are apt expressions of the rising Mars temperament. Indeed, everything we do may become supercharged with a force majeure, driven by an urge to conquer and overpower. We will tend to advance in life through force of will and engage in competitive relationships which test our strength and prowess because we are literally possessed by a fighting spirit. This fighting spirit will be much easier to handle if Mars is below the horizon, in the 1st temple; when Mars is in the 12th temple we may be destined to encounter defeats as above the lip of the Earth the psychic impact of the planet is so raw that it becomes embedded deep in the subconscious and is therefore primed to erupt from within as repressed anger and force at later points in life. This can have a debilitating effect on health, creating greater chance of highly feverish conditions and exposing us to the danger of accidents involving fire and sharp edges. On the other hand the rising nature of Mars in a visible part of the sky can really help it to make an impact in the ways that are meaningful to it, i.e. in ways that get it noticed in the world whereas Mars in the 1st temple tends to be more internally focused.
The touch of Mars on the ascendant gives the embodied identity a much easier time when it comes to asserting itself and pressing it’s will into the world, provided the aspects to Mars are not too problematic. It will be a battle anyway, but if they are problematic then this process becomes much more of a battle for the person but the battle is in itself the reward because it hones the fighting spirit into a legendary blade. Victories become much sweeter in these cases because the struggle being overcome is what feeds the Mars spirit within us. It’s the struggle and not the attainment of the goal that matters to these beings the most. You can fight and fail but if you fight and you improve while failing you can just try again from a stronger position. Please understand that I’m not saying that these beings are violent or that they enjoy conquering; only the lower Mars beings embody these concepts. Instead what I am getting at here is that these beings feed on the challenges of life and see it as an arena in which the will and the spirit are strengthened by overcoming their weaknesses and vanquishing problems. They spur us on when we feel daunted by the prospect of what lies before us, whispering to us “you can do it”, “just keep going, don’t give up”, or simply “fuck them”. In this respect these beings are absolutely necessary to get through life, as without them we would lack the courage to face things about ourselves and to overcome that which oppresses us. Yet, if we listen too intently to their stirring and cheer-leading they are sure to sorely tempt us and to lead us astray, even into violence and destruction of that which gets in our way. Everybody must deal with these situations but when you live in the present moment with the beings of Mars throughout the course of your life, when you live and breathe what they live and breathe, the problem is paramount to address. Therefore, the taming of the Mars spirit within us when Mars is rising becomes a central point of drama in the life story and how we handle that drama will determine whether we rocket ahead or explode on the launchpad.
Interestingly a large number of people with Mars on the ascendant have good health because Mars is a very robust force that bolsters the immune system, the blood and the way the body deals with invasion. In general, Mars rising increases physical strength, stamina, and endurance, particularly in men, and has been found in a statistically improbable number of charts of people involved in the armed forces (research by Michel Gauquelin). There is a look of someone with an imposing will, a more piercing or sharp gaze, and we can suffer more from rashes or dry skin irritations, blood conditions, heatstroke, sunburn, cuts and burns by accidents (actually, excessive restlessness or anger breaking free), fevers and sweats. The complexion is often redder or ruddier, and some people are fond of displaying their connection to Mars and its cutting spirit through their piercings, tattoos and scars. Curiously but logically a lot of them also blush easily as the blood comes quickly to the surface of the face and so they are often easily embarrassed or humiliated despite being strong willed and assertive. It’s dangerous to fool or humiliate them too much, however, as their identity is not able to take it lying down or in good humour. Military uniform is almost too stereotypical to mention, but it does play a role as many people with Mars on the ascendant are drawn into the armed forces, and in general there will be a highly controlled and sharp appearance. Other forms of dress which Mars rising people are often seen attired in include anything which strikes a strong tone, immediately draws attention to itself, looks like it doesn’t give a shit what you think, carries provocative slogans or is designed to intimidate.
With Mars rising we need to learn to look before we leap, be far less severe and harsh on ourselves and others, control our base impulses (sexual and willful), and consider welcoming the assistance of others more when they try to help. We have to learn that every hero has company and does not vanquish the kaiju alone. We have a tendency to make an impression on others that is more abrasive than we think, and like Mars the god if our desires are thwarted or put on hold we can become angered and respond with deadly swiftness. This rashness can destroy relationships so we need to temper our spontaneity with restraint. The urge to hit back when injured or defeated must be reigned in and directed to more creative efforts at working around difficulties. Rivals must not be defeated and humiliated, they must be educated. Differences must not divide and conquer, they must serve to emphasise individual uniqueness. Comparisons and competitive evaluations that result in sinking self confidence must be set aside in place of an awareness of our own powerfully unique potential. The Mars principle – its whole essential meaning – must become a part of our identity without subsuming or consuming it. The sword must be wielded with care and love. We must be a warrior, but what we fight for and why and how we do it are the important things.
Faces: Piero di Cosimo (Aquarius), Christian Dior (Scorpio), Lyndon B. Johnson (Virgo), Henry Kissinger (Gemini), Ronald Reagan (Sagittarius rising with Mars in Capricorn), Donald Trump (Leo), Bill Clinton (Libra), Admiral Nelson (Scorpio), Tony Blair (Gemini), Peter Sellers (Virgo), Derek Jacobi (Virgo), Francis Ford Coppola (Capricorn), Stephen King (Cancer) and Kathy Bates (Virgo).
Next month we check out Jupiter to Pluto, see you there and thanks for reading!