When we talk about transits to the Ascendant, we usually think of the conjunction as being the most powerful. And indeed it is, for it generally heralds a process of rebirth, anything from a radical change in our appearance to a complete revision of how we see the world, and therefore act in it. Planets transiting the Ascendant in other aspects are less talked about, but of late I've had experience of two such challenging aspects, and have come to see just how powerful they can be. Both Pluto and Saturn have made hard aspects to my Ascendant, and it feels as if the heavies of the horoscope have been banging at my door, challenging the guardian of my personal threshold.
The Ascendant, of course, shows how we are in the world, the persona we adopt and the window through which we perceive reality. It shows where we are oriented in time and space, and is the gateway through which our whole chart enters the earthly realm. So it follows that any planet connecting to the Ascendant will affect us on a very real level, out there in our external reality. Two planets in connection will have a dynamic energy, there is a two way process going on. But a transit to the Ascendant is different, more like a shift in the gateway to allow a different energy through.
Transits to the Ascendant show us the masks we wear, and teach us something about them. A mask can be a sacred object, expressing a sacred reality (is there any other kind?). It can be a visible manifestation of an aspect of ourselves, or it can allow us to behave appropriately in certain situations. A mask can be both useful and beautiful. But over time the mask crystallises, and it becomes difficult to tell where we end and the mask begins. The mask can become a trap, a comfort zone which stops us developing. Hard aspects to the Ascendant make us question whether the mask is still a useful façade, or whether it has become something we hide behind even from ourselves. With Saturn squaring my Ascendant from the tenth house, it follows that my work day mask has been called into question, with a side order of Pluto to help me dig deep beneath the persona. Having tried to make the best of a situation I was unhappy with, the mask became more and more rigid – until the tension builds so far that it shatters. On an outer level, Saturn is making me into the most negative kind of boss, the kind I don't want to be. But on an inner level, there is so much to learn from this experience. Ideas and plans are crystallising, fears being overcome, sometimes even a sense of mastery developing. There is a dynamic between changes being imposed from external reality, the effect of these changes in my inner reality – as the world changes around me, my world-view shifts with it.
The Ascendant has always seemed somehow circular to me – it describes how we see the world, and how the world sees us, but which comes first? Is it how the world sees us because it is what we project into the world, or does what we project into the world get decided by how the world sees us? Do we make the mask or is it imposed on us? Transits to the Ascendant raise all of these questions, and challenge us to answer them.
Lisa is a diploma student currently meandering the byways of module nine, and is endlessly fascinated by the myriad ways astrological symbolism shows up in our lives.