“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.
Virgo Rising: Mercury as Chart Ruler
The feminine, earthy, double-bodied (mutable) Virgo Ascendant embodies the melancholic expression of nocturnal Mercury. With Virgo rising, the native is analytical, inquisitive, detailed, and methodical in his outward expression. Virgo Ascendants seek to apply the practical side of mercurial knowledge in order to render services. If the objective of mercurial Gemini is to amalgamate information, for the Virgo Ascendant, information must be scrutinized for efficiency and validity. The Virgo Ascendant usually appears reserved and reticent, with a nervous nimbleness in tempo. Because it incessantly strives for perfection in an imperfect world, the digestive system is often delicate.
Of Mercury-ruled natives, Lilly notes:
‘One of high stature and straight thin spare body, a high forehead and somewhat narrow long face, long nose… long arms, fingers and hands.”
Here, Lilly proceeds to describe distinctly malleable nature of Mercury according to its configuration(s) with other planets.
The placement and condition of Mercury in the natal chart guides the direction and purpose of the native’s life, while the body and identity is influenced by transits through the ascendant, natal Mercury, and Mercury retrogrades, and Mercury profections. The house ruler of Mercury also directs the expression of the Virgo Ascendant. For example, if Mercury occupies a sign polarizing its essential nature, such as Pisces, the native may not approach life as a typical Virgo Ascendant. Planets occupying the first house can significantly alter the personality of the Ascendant. The chart’s sect will further punctuate the full expression of Mercury 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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