I have often mused about how astrology might have first come to be. I imagine a very ancient women sitting under the stars and noticing a familiar red star rising in the east just after the Sun has set. It has been rising in that same place about the same time for several nights, but on this night there is another woman in their small village who gives birth just as the red star appears. A day or two later a second woman gives birth when the red star appears. Years later, everyone in the village has noticed the striking similarity in the personalities of these two children, and the stories told of the red star that appeared at the time of their births becomes meaningful. Soon the villagers regularly sit outside while a birth is at hand, and carefully record the stars that are visible at the times of each birth. The science of astrology is being birthed.
Both of the children in my fantasy had Mars, the red planet, close to their “Ascendant” or in their “Rising Sign”, the part of their birth horoscope that indicates the outer personae or personal style. Most astrologers find that the Rising sign, the Sun Sign and the Moon Sign are the three most important indicators of personality and temperament with the Rising Sign being the most outer or public face of the personality.
Most of us know our Sun Sign from the newspaper and monthly Sun Sign horoscopes, but we need to have an astrologer cast a chart for the exact moment and place of our birth to know our Rising Sign. If you have an astrologer cast your birth chart, what you will see is a circular map where the inner circle represents earth and the outer circle the heavens. A line through the center of these two circles is the horizon that divides day from night, and on the left end of this line is one of the zodiacal signs rising in the east. That is your Rising Sign or Ascendant. This sign tells us how you express all of the elements of your birth chart. It is the mask you wear, your style of expression. It also has a great influence of your physical appearance, especially visible in the shape of the head and face, and often one’s coloring too. For instance, Mars on the Ascendant almost always gives a strong red quality to the hair and complexion and a triangular face with a pointed chin. A Martian personality style will be assertive and outgoing, often impulsive and pushy.
But if Mars, is accompanied by another planet whose influence is opposite, these Martian physical features and the forceful personal style might not be as visible since they will be tempered by the accompanying planet. A good example of this is the chart of Sandra Bullock where Mars and Venus are paired up on this Ascendant point. She displays the Martian strength and assertiveness but it is tempered with Venusian grace and charm. Also, meaningful is that these planets on her Ascendant are in the sign of Gemini, so we see the charm expressed with great wit and an ease with public speaking.