“To know the character of the native’s mind, look at the Lord of the Ascendant and Mercury (who is the significator of the intellective power, speech and oration). These signify the matters of the soul, and the morals of the native, just as the Moon and the Ascendant signify the body.” (Abu’Ali Al-Khayatt, The Judgment of Nativities)
The Natal Ascendant: A Chart’s Profile
The Ascendant is simply the zodiacal degree rising over the eastern horizon at the exact time and location of birth. Known as ‘the Helm’ in Hellenistic astrology, the Ascendant expresses the native’s navigational strategy, a metaphorical grappling of the steering-oar of life. Because it reveals one’s interaction with the external environment, unfurling the native’s vitality, health, character, temperament, and corporeal constitution, the Ascendant is a critical feature of the natal chart. As the first house does not fully surface above the horizon, it remains both visible and concealed. Akin to the flight of fleet-footed Hermes, the Ascendant symbolizes the oscillation between the diurnal and nocturnal realms of spirit and matter. In essence, it is the merging point between the macrocosmic and microcosmic hemispheres of the natal chart: as above, so below.
Cancer Ascendant: The Moon as Chart Ruler
The feminine, watery, movable (cardinal) Cancer Ascendant embodies the oscillating, phlegmatic expression of the nocturnal luminary, the Moon. With Cancer rising, the oscillating nature of the emotions is at the forefront of the native, significantly impacted by the monthly lunar transits. As the nocturnal luminary waxes and wanes, so does the emotional disposition of the native. The appearance is said to mirror the Moon’s profile: a pallid complexion, rounded face, pronounced chin, large watery eyes, and thin, sparse hair. The native is fuller in constitution, with a tendency to retain liquid. Cancer Ascendants navigate their environment via instinct and sensitivity. Akin to the reflectivity of the Moon, Cancer Ascendants can often mirror the impressions of their surroundings.
Of lunar natives, Lilly notes:
‘She by reason of her swiftness, varies her shape very often, but in the general, she personifies one having a round visage and full faced, in whose complexion you may perceive a mixture of white and red, but paleness overcomes…’
The placement and condition of the Moon in the natal chart signals a key focal point in the native’s life, and the manner in which it is actualized. The body and personality is influenced by transits through the Ascendant, the natal Moon, including first place, and Moon profection years. The house ruler of the Moon also directs the expression of the Cancer Ascendant. For example, if the Moon occupies a sign polarizing its essential nature, such as Capricorn, the native may not approach life as a typical Cancer Ascendant. Planets occupying the first house can significantly alter the personality of the Ascendant. Again, for example, Saturn occupying the first house of a Cancer Ascendant will significantly alter the appearance and personality. The chart’s sect will further punctuate the potency of the Moon in the natal chart.
Ascendant descriptions are intended as general, isolated references, and are but one component of the natal chart.
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