Has anyone ever asked you, “What’s your sign?” Did you know that the answer to this question actually gives very little information about who you are as a person?

In reality, astrology is a much broader, deeper look at our energetic signature, and each of us is a unique combination of all twelve signs in relationship to another. While we do express some qualities of our sun sign (the sign that most of us know), understanding the three big players in our astrological chart gives us a much more well-rounded picture. The big three of our natal chart are our sun sign, moon sign, and our rising (or ascendant) sign. Each of these is a specific field of consciousness that has a major influence in the way you live your life.

Perhaps Carl Jung explained it best when he said:

Astrology incorporates the sum total of the ancient world’s psychological knowledge.

Through astrology, we understand ourselves better. We recognize our urges, discover our purpose, uncover our shadow and reveal our purpose. It’s all there if we know how to read the signs. Astrology is an alchemical psychology. As astrologers, we must know how these signs and symbols strangely mix to interpret the blueprint left by the stars. As mystics, we must know how to use this astrological mix to create integration, wholeness–gold.

Sun Sign
This is the quintessential astrological pickup line… “What’s your sign?” We ask it of those we meet in a variety of circumstances hoping to glean some information about who they really are. But, what is the sun sign, really?

It is only one small piece of a much broader snapshot of the human psyche. The sun sign is essentially one’s ego, the face we show to the world. Our sun sign is made of qualities that others might use to describe us, for example, “She’s very outgoing!” or “He just loves to travel.” or “She’s a stickler for organization.” As we all know, there is much more to us than our conscious personality.

While it is the ego (conscious personality) that certainly gets a lot of “face time” in our lives–it’s the mask we show to the world–we are far deeper and broader than that. Knowing someone’s sun sign, including our own, gives us insight into how we present ourselves as well as how people see us.

This helps us to refine and elevate our sense of self-expression. Every single aspect of astrology has both high and low sides. Anytime we find ourselves expressing the low side of something, it means we have just as much energy to express the alternative on the high side. This is great news! We want our conscious personality to be strong, not forceful or prideful; functional, not weak, insensitive or selfish. Our conscious personality is a gift to the world that gives us access to all human interaction. If we express our sun sign’s highest qualities, we create soulful, meaningful interactions filled with verve, creativity, and life.

Moon Sign
If our sun sign is our face to the world, the moon is its complement. While the sun represents our ego, the moon represents our unconscious drives and emotions. The moon reflects the core beliefs we have about ourselves. These elements, hidden in the shadow, arise as our reactions, emotions, and triggers.

Many think this is a bad thing. Far from it! Without the insight that the moon gives us, we never know ourselves completely. It is by not looking at the reflection–the outer expression–of what it shows us, but by looking past it into the darkness itself that we learn about ourselves. The moon sign shows us how this invaluable information is encrypted within the shadow. For example, a Cancer moon may be overly sensitive and react to wounding by withdrawing, whereas a Scorpio moon hides its wounds by lashing out.

Knowing this about ourselves (or others), we recognize when we are triggered. We learn more about how our core wounds and behaviors express themselves…and so we know how to better resolve them. In that moment that our moon sign finds its reactivity, we find our strength by feeling its call and going deep within. This allows us to be more conscious of our reactions and read the signs of what a situation or person triggers within us. Too much wounding from a particular situation is a good sign to remove yourself from it.

When we heed the messages of our moon sign, our responses become lighter and more conscious, we feel content and become much more flexible and open in given situations. When we don’t pay attention to the power of our triggers, we become increasingly sensitive to them (often making a bad situation worse), indulge in destructive behavior, insecurity, and apathy, which leads to a state of unhappiness!

Luckily, communing with the moon (yes, both inner and outer) gives us respect for this powerful force within us. The moon speaks through us and when we listen we have access to a deeper level of consciousness and awakening which allows us to feel the joy that comes when we live in accordance with our deepest nature.

Rising Sign (Ascendant)
The rising sign is not a planet, but a marker on your natal chart. It is a specific line that indicates the horizon line. This line is found in conjunction with a zodiac sign, which gives us your rising sign. This is essentially the moment in your astrological blueprint that night turns to day, that darkness turns to light. It is a pivotal point in our psyche and expresses the greater whole of our conscious mind.

The sun sign is the ego, which is just one (powerfully compelling) part of the conscious mind. Sometimes the ego is so strong we forget about everything else that exists within us…we feel our emotions and triggers (from our moon) as if we are a victim of them. And, we fail to recognize that we are bigger than our usually narrow-minded ego allows us to believe. When we forget how powerful we are, we ignore the traits of our rising sign.

But, there are moments that we get quiet and greater wisdom steps in. We feel this in moments of creativity when we are authentically expressing ourselves without care or worry when we are completely at home in ourselves. This is the rising sign in action. It is the part that we sometimes don’t share with the world (because we are not always in touch with it ourselves), but the part that our friends remind us of when we doubt ourselves.

When we step out of the light of our ascendant, we become unnecessarily fearful, we cling to our smallness  and become so attached to our small view of ourselves and life we staunchly defend it. However, when we step into the light, we give rise to the fullest expression of ourselves encoded in our natal chart. We know unequivocally who we are and establish an unshakable sense of self. There is no rift between who we know ourselves to be and who we are because we have knowledge of the self; we are completely authentic.

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What to Do With This Info

For now, notice these three pieces consciousness within yourself. Everyone has an active sun, moon and ascendant.

Sun:
Observe the face you show to the world. Recognize when you are playing small. Also, recognize when you are playing well with others, using who you are to smoothly support interactions and relationships.

Moon:
We all get triggered. Daily. It’s a fact of life. Watch your triggers; you know them for the emotional state they create. Agitation, frustration, anger, even excitement are triggers. This is your moon helping you to know yourself better. Rather than react immediately, indulging the trigger, give yourself a breath of pause and honor your moon for reflecting your deepest desires and needs to you.

Rising:
Watch to see if there is any separation between who you know yourself to be and who you are right now. Do one thing today to let one aspect of your truest, highest expression to shine through. Living in accord with our authentic self sets us up for a wholehearted life experience.

When you learn your sun, moon and rising sign (or, learn them in another!) you start to get a clearer picture of the totality of your psyche…you come to know yourself better. The greatest gift we can give anyone else is self-knowledge. Through self-knowledge we gain greater insight, clarity and awareness of how to express the high side of each of these signs and live life in accord with the highest expression of ourselves. This is how we learn to live our best life!