"Spread your mind from the moonbeam-visible objects to the dim stars and distant skies ... and behold the universe as light."
The Ascendant Ruler
This article looks at the sign on the cusp of the first house, the planet
that is most closely associated with it, and the sign and house placement of
When delineating a horoscope, the cusps of the four angular houses are extremely important areas to consider, but of all the angles in a chart, the Ascendant is of especial significance. It shows the physical instrument through which the soul must function. The expression of all the soul qualities and gifts depends upon this physical means. Perhaps it can best be described as how a person presents him/herself through the personality shown to the world. It signifies the character traits, attributes and distinctive qualities seen by others, the outer self, spontaneous likes and dislikes, and the natural reactions to situations encountered on the earth plane. It can also show how the person meets with physical incarnation, and the way in which their inner being relates to external circumstances.
If there are any rising planets, they can modify the absolute qualities of the Ascendant, and their attributes have to be carefully blended with those of the rising sign. When there are several rising planets, it suggests an intricate personality, perhaps someone who may display strongly opposing traits at different times, or in differing circumstances.
In his book 'The Ascendant - Your Karmic Doorway', Martin Schulman states 'The Ascendant is your point in consciousness. It magnetises and leads the rest of the chart to those experiences through which the inner being and the outer environment can relate to each other'. One very helpful way of seeing how this occurs in an individual chart is to look at the ruler of the horoscope. This is the planet that rules the Ascendant sign. It can clarify and expand on the lessons and strengths that the Ascendant and its aspects are signifying. This planet is of especial importance in the life and character of the individual. In fact, in ancient teachings, the ruler was considered to be the Lord presiding not only over the birth, but also of the whole life. Its sign, house position, and aspects should be studied, as they hold much information and knowledge about the deepest secrets of the incarnating soul.
The first step is to ascertain which planet is the ruler. It is the planet most closely associated with the rising sign. For example, if Libra rises, the ruler of the chart is said to be Venus, if Virgo rises, then it is Mercury, and so on. Reflecting upon the qualities of this planet will tell us a great deal about how its prominence colours the character and approach to life, and also about the personality and general outlook of the person. When either the Sun or Moon rule the horoscope, it is particularly significant, as here it relates to the general unfoldment of the life, or to the emotional nature. If it is Mercury, then the mental processes and responses are of paramount importance. Venus as ruler implies matters pertaining to the affections, values, or finances are a focus. Should Mars be the ruler, then the drives, desires and inner motivations are very powerful. Jupiter as ruler suggests an incarnation where the search for wisdom, expansion and progress will be a leading factor, whilst Saturn implies that structure, responsibility and discipline will be deeply meaningful.
The houses of the chart are said to relate to the environment. Therefore, the house position of the ruler signifies an important centre of focus in the life. It can suggest which areas are likely to be experienced as familiar and comfortable. It describes which type of events will be a guiding force in the direction the life will take. Lifelong interests may well be centred here, and often the soul can be drawn to them from an early age and so throughout the entire life. The position of the ruling planet can indicate areas that motivate the person. It is here that many interests or fields of activity can be most fully explored and experienced, and often where time and effort are most willingly dedicated.
"Reflecting upon the qualities of this planet will tell us a great deal about how its prominence colours the character and approach to life, and also about the personality and general outlook of the person."
The temperament, approach to life, and overall point of view of the individual, can be influenced by the quality of the house the ruler is placed in. Should this planet fall in an Angular house, then there is likely to be an emphasis on outward action, and towards doing things of a dynamic, positive nature. New experiences and activities, events and interests associated with that house will be sought. In a Succeedent house, the feelings are of great importance, as the soul is learning through its varying reactions to the circumstances and daily occurrences in the life. As the feelings are of primary concern, the world and its happenings are predominantly viewed from a subjective viewpoint. In a Cadent house, thought is the dominant feature. The inner world will be of great significance, and often it will be seen that cogitative or educational interests are frequently enjoyed. Here the person has the capacity to reflect deeply, and through this, knowledge and understanding are sought from all the diverse opportunities life has to offer.
Unless the ruler of the horoscope is the Sun or Moon, the same planet will also rule another house in the chart. This house too will be of deep significance. The influences and circumstances will be of a similar nature, as of course the sign, house and aspects of its dispositor will be the same as that of the Ascendant. One more point to look out for is if the ruler is placed in an intercepted house, in which case further factors from the sign on its cusp have to be taken into account.
As the zodiacal signs are said to relate to character, the sign in which the ruler is placed can indicate how the matters associated with that house are approached. It can suggest possible practical operations of action, feelings, or thought for that individual. The element of the ruling planet's sign indicates the type of experiences that are likely to be rewarding, and bring the highest level of satisfaction. For example, if in one of the fire signs, Aries Leo or Sagittarius, then motivational power is strong, and the inspirational side of the character is stimulated and needs to find full expression. When it is placed in the earth signs of Taurus Virgo or Capricorn, then the person will have a practical turn of mind, and will be likely to seek hobbies and occupations with a specific purpose or outcome. With the ruler in one of the air signs Gemini Libra or Aquarius, the individual will most likely seek mentally stimulating hobbies and occupations, whereas in the water signs Cancer Scorpio or Pisces, emotional security will be of immense importance.
When there is compatibility between the sign in which the ruler is placed, and the Ascendant sign, it can suggest a level of ease for the finest and most productive qualities to emerge. However, should they not be compatible, it will take consistent work and endeavour to harmonise any conflicting influences and forces within the person.
Aspects to the ruler indicate the ease or difficulty the soul may experience in bringing out the highest potential of the ruling planet in their chart. If the ruler is positively aspected, there will be a certain ease of expression with regard to the particular qualities and attributes of that planet. On the other hand, if the ruler is heavily afflicted, it may require some considerable effort to fully manifest the finest possibilities of the planet in question. Occasionally, it might occur that the ruling planet is unaspected. It is possible that much work has been done in previous incarnations to incorporate those particular energies, and so in this lifetime, the soul is concentrating on different lessons.
This article was first published in the Astrological Journal 'Altair' in February 2002.
The ruling planet is brought particularly strongly into prominence when progressions or transits activate it. Progressions and transits, both to and from this planet, can herald times when important and significant events or deep inner changes are likely to occur.
As with all matters pertaining to horoscope delineation, when considering the ruler, many factors need to be taken into account. Each part of the chart confers useful and interesting information, or suggests an inherent possibility for the person in question. By including the Ascendant ruler as an important influence, added insights into the character and interests of the individual can be discovered. It can also suggest possible life events, and how they are likely to work out in a practical way on the earth plane.