What does our Ascendant signify? In a word, it is our unique identity. We need to know that we exist, and that we matter. If we are the same as everybody else, we lose our identity. If we feel insignificant among others around us, or nobody appreciates our unique strengths, our identity is threatened.
As we grow, we keep forming and shaping our identity – parents influence their children’s identity formation a great deal through what traits they model for their children. Being a teenager is universally challenging because a whole new dimension of life – namely, sexuality – comes into consciousness, and the young person’s identity has to evolve in order to assimilate that dimension: how sexually attractive am I? Or, what do I find attractive in opposite sex?
Throughout childhood and adolescence, outer environment may help strengthen or threaten the formation of identity. If a child grows up in a chaotic household where fighting between parents threaten the core of family stability, a lot of psychic energy gets wasted on worrying about others, and hence little gets left to form our own identity. Even worse is when the child is actually the target of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
If the parents are able to provide the child with a stable home where positive values are honored, modeled and reinforced, that frees everyone’s psychic energy to find what he or she likes, and pursue it. From this, we can expect that identity formation will be that much more advanced in children who grow up in a stable family environment.
Astrologically, we look at the aspect to the Ascendant and its ruler to determine the level of outward tension one had to experience when growing up. Pluto on ASC frequently suggests difficult birth for the mother, which may also suggest element of abuse or control imposed onto the child. Uranus may suggest the threat of family breakup, or valuing the intellect over feelings. Neptune may suggest aloneness, abandonment. Saturn may suggest discipline, responsibility and coldness encountered early on.
The hard aspect (conjunction, square, opposition) from these “heavy” planets would be interpreted as “tension imposed on the identity formation process by outer environment.” The soft aspect may suggest more element of stability: Pluto may suggest a certain type of emotional intelligence modeled by the parents, Neptune may be appreciation of arts, Uranus – intellectual exercise may have been modeled or encouraged as fun, Saturn – discipline was taught early.
As all aspects imply connection, the distinction between hard and soft aspect may blur as one matures and assimilate the challenges of identity formation – most of the time blessings and curses are both present within a family unit, regardless of the type of aspect found in the Ascendant or its ruler. The key is to recognize and bring out the positive quality of the planetary archetype as a part of identity.
This is going to be a series of posts exploring the Ascendant signs and aspects.