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Rising to Your Soul’s Purpose
By Maria Vaiano

Have you ever wondered why others tend to see you with a different perspective than you see yourself? Have you ever considered where, in your natal chart, you might find clues about the most urgent purpose your soul has in this incarnation?

While these two questions appear to have nothing in common, the answer to both can be found in the same point on your birth chart: the ascendant. The ascendant, or rising sign, is the sign that appears on the first house cusp of your natal chart; it’s the sign that was rising over the horizon at the exact moment of your birth. Many astrologers refer to this point in the chart as the “mask” you present to the outside world, but don’t let this mislead you. Your mask is very much a part of who you are; it’s the part of you that you allow others to see. These are the personality traits and needs you’ve chosen to make others aware of from their very first impression of you. Since the rising sign is so visible, it’s also a point in the chart where one can determine physical characteristics.

From the perspective of personality, the rising sign certainly reveals a great deal, but from a spiritual perspective, these revelations take on an even deeper meaning. If the Sun sign represents what you are learning to become in this lifetime, then the rising sign can be seen as the most direct route your Sun sign will use to learn these lessons. The rising sign indicates the immediate visibility of personality traits, but also the immediate visibility of the soul’s purpose.

Let’s take an example: suppose you have a girlfriend with her Sun in Cancer. You’ve read about Cancers and know they are nurturing, protective, moody and usually shy, yet also intensely creative and intuitive. Yet this friend of yours doesn’t seem to fit this description at all. Instead of creating tantalizing dishes from her cozy kitchen while complaining about her PMS to you on the phone, and having a life centered on mothering her four children, husband, sister and the neighbors, she’s busy traveling the world, has three advanced degrees (one in art history, one in philosophy and one in creative writing) and refuses to get married and have children because she believes it will restrict her freedom loving personality. This friend always has a smile on her face and looks at the bright side of things. That’s not Cancer, is it? Well, maybe this friend could be better understood once you realize that she has Sagittarius rising. Sadge is all about truth seeking and higher learning. Sagittarius is fun loving and has an intense need for freedom. This Cancer Sun friend has an immediate soul purpose to nurture (Cancer) her own higher learning and spiritual advancement (Sagittarius). What you don’t see on the surface is the fact that she may also be tremendously insecure (Cancer) about her ability to learn (Sagittarius) or her faith (Sagittarius). She is learning to nurture her faith. She is also learning to have faith in her ability to nurture.

When you look at the rising sign from both a personality and soul level, it can give you deep insights. By embracing the lesson your soul decided was the most urgent, and by being aware of what it is about your personality you allow others to see, you can project yourself in the most positive light and accelerate your soul growth all at the same time.


Rising to the Challenge

The remainder of this article is divided into sections that explain the personality traits others will see in you based on your ascendant, as well as the immediate soul lesson that particular rising sign calls on you to integrate with your Sun sign potential. Allow your intuition to guide you as you read these descriptions and I’m sure you will find something that resonates. Remember, your soul wants you to uncover these lessons and embrace them; you chose your individual mask for a reason.

Please also realize that, as with any single point in a birth chart, complete understanding of the details of your life purpose and mask can only be fully delineated when all the aspects your ascendant makes to the remainder of the chart are considered. In addition, the placement of the planet that rules your ascendant is quite significant because it tells you where you will most likely play out this important life lesson. Also, if you have any planets close to the ascendant, or in the first house, this adds further decoration to your mask and there will be more to uncover. If you find a heavy first house or an ascendant that makes many aspects to the rest of the chart, you may want to consult an astrologer to help you fully understand the colors you wear to the world, and the lesson they brighten your life with.

Aries Rising

Move out of the way folks, because Aries rising wants to be first! I’ll be blunt about this and say that if you have Aries rising in your chart, someone’s first impression of you may be that you are a little pushy or rude. Almost always, they will see you as impatient and in a rush. You may even appear to be arrogant or self-centered since you’re so busy pushing forward; you sometimes don’t even notice anyone around you.

This is the mask – the first impression. What you will also find with Aries rising is an indomitable spirit, steadfast courage and willingness to walk through fire to fight for what they believe in.
Some people don’t like Aries rising because they do seem overly concerned with developing their own ego, or self identity. And here’s the irony: that’s exactly what they are supposed to be doing in this incarnation. The immediate soul purpose of an Aries rising is to develop that strong sense of an independent self.

Taurus Rising

When the bull is rising in your chart, you may appear to others as slow moving, easygoing and someone with charming manners. Some might see you as a tad too materialistic or possessive. You may appear extremely stubborn; not only are you unwilling to give up, you don’t know how to give up. At the same time, the presence of a Taurus rising is usually quite calming and peaceful, almost docile.
Taurus rising may appear simplistic to some. It seems as if all you really want is a good meal, some great sex, and a beautiful piece of land to call your own. Whatever your values are, with Taurus rising, there will be no trouble in expressing them to others.
The soul purpose of someone with Taurus rising will center on understanding the nature of the physical. This includes every physical experience from aesthetic to intimate. You are learning how to bring spirit into matter.


Gemini Rising

If you have Gemini rising in your chart, you may appear to others as very restless. You have this air about you of eternal youth, and even if you’re 90 years old, I’ll bet your mind is as sharp as ever! You’re excitable and mentally agile – always moving onto something new or the next idea. You’re sometimes perceived as fickle because so many things interest you and it’s difficult to focus on one area of interest at a time.

Your immediate soul purpose is to learn how to communicate truthfully. You do this only after you’ve evaluated all sides of a situation. We all know there are several sides to a story. Your lesson is to integrate them all into one cohesive truth.


Cancer Rising

With Cancer rising, others see you as moody and someone with fluctuating emotions. You may seem quite shy, insecure, and super-sensitive. You give off the impression of reacting emotionally to everything, and also appear as someone who is extremely home and family loving. You are also intensely creative.
Your soul purpose is to learn about nurturing and loving others in a responsible way.

Leo Rising

Leo rising appears to the world as someone with a bright, sunny disposition – at times even dramatic. You seem to exude confidence and when you walk into a room others definitely notice!
Your soul purpose is to learn you don’t need approval from the outside world. Underneath that noble air, you are really learning how to love yourself.


Virgo Rising

Virgo rising seems to be quite refined. Very often a probing, analytical speaker with a soft tone to your voice, others may see you as intelligent and witty. Others may accuse you of either being too neat, or too messy, but you will certainly have a distinct pattern to your character. Others will notice how important work is to you as well.
Your immediate soul purpose has to do with learning how to improve yourself without criticizing or undermining others.

Libra Rising

It may very well be true that others see you as quite attractive. After all, you probably have delicate, refined features and exude charm and confidence. I’ll bet your nails are perfectly manicured (even if you’re a man) and you’re always socially graceful.
You may appear to others as very concerned with being diplomatic and fair to everyone you know.
Your soul purpose has to do with learning about balancing equality in your partnerships, and fine tuning your understanding of a relationship as a spiritual path, not as a means to define who you are as a person.


Scorpio Rising

One thing is certain, people see you as intense! Either they are intensely attracted to you, or instantly repelled by your magnetic, mysterious quality. You may appear to others as somewhat mystical, or very secretive and difficult to get to know. There is a tremendous power to someone with this rising sign and others recognize it immediately.

The soul purpose involves learning how to properly utilize this power. Will you use it for what it’s intended to be, the life force as a path to God, or the Universe, or the Source? Or will you use it to control and manipulate others? It’s been said that souls who choose to incarnate with Scorpio rising have chosen a path of difficult and accelerated soul growth. Every incarnation is important, but I believe if you have Scorpio rising, there is something critical about this incarnation that will affect your soul’s development.


Sagittarius Rising

You probably have a knack for putting someone in a good mood simply by being in their presence. You exude optimism and others see you as always exploring new territory, new goals, or new challenges. You show others a strong philosophical or spiritual belief system and may be very active, with a love of travel.
Your immediate soul purpose has everything to do with spiritual growth and faith. You will travel many new horizons in your lifetime in order to achieve this purpose.


Capricorn Rising

Others will probably see you as reserved and serious most of the time. One word others will use to describe you is “responsible”. You might even be perceived by others as somewhat of a “wet blanket” because you’re so busy planning and working towards achieving your goals that you give off the impression of someone who is a bit dry or all work and no play. You are quietly ambitious, climbing the ladder of success one rung at a time. You may have invented the word “willpower”.
Your immediate soul purpose includes learning about responsibility and structure. You are also here to teach others how to properly take care of business.


Aquarius Rising

Okay, so maybe others see you as a bit weird, or eccentric. You definitely are progressive in some way but your progressive outlook will be fenced into your own restrictive ideas of that particular outlook. Because of the rulers of Aquarius (Uranus and Saturn) being so inherently different (Saturn is structure and Uranus breaks up structure) you might seem to be a contradiction to others. One thing is certain; people are going to be attracted to your magnetism. Even with your electric quality, you may be more interested in ideas than people (or at least that’s how you might be perceived).
Your soul purpose centers on breaking through to a more progressive consciousness. I believe it also has something to do with learning to discriminate when you should respect an existing structure vs. when to go ahead and break it up.


Pisces Rising

Others will see you as generous, sympathetic to those less fortunate, and very sensitive and sentimental. You are the essence of feeling and imagination. People may often see you as someone they can easily take advantage of because of your capacity for unconditional love and compassion.
Your soul purpose will be to learn to give to others without losing yourself in the process. You must also learn to deal with your intense emotions rather than escape from them.




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