Friday, April 8, 2016

The Difference between the Ascendant and the Midheaven

One of the bigger questions in astrology is just what is the difference between the Ascendant and the Midheaven? It’s an interesting, nuanced subject because both of these angles and their respective houses – the 1st House and the 10th House – represent your “image”. But, when it comes to the difference between the two, they’re about the ways in which you project that image. One is on a large, widespread scale (the Midheaven) and one is on a smaller, more immediate scale (the Ascendant). Also, I like to see it as the Midheaven being the specific image that you aim to present or end up presenting. The Midheaven, after all, is a goal. The Ascendant, meanwhile, is a motivation. So, it’s more so a general image that is just a pattern throughout your life.

Confusing? Well, let’s look at it this way. When we consider the Ascendant and the 1st House, we consider a person’s general outlook on life. This is the usually called the “house of self.” I like to re-define that, because it can be so misleading, and call it the “house of personal perspective.” I’ve already written an article on the Sun versus the Ascendant, saying that the Sun is the self while the Ascendant is the role that the self plays. It’s not as simple as calling it a mask. It’s more so a set of behaviors that stem from an attitude that has just been ingrained in you throughout life. Therefore, whatever’s going in your 1st House says a lot about the way you approach life.

The 1st House has a way of touching everything. All the other houses are following the trail that your 1st House/Ascendant blazes. Meanwhile, the 10th House/Midheaven is on its own plane. It is the most elevated point in your chart. All your other houses are a little jealous of your Midheaven, trying or yearning to get on its level but never really being able to. This is why the Midheaven is so associated with fame and why we see famous people so heavily through their Midheaven and any aspects to it. While the Ascendant is your approach to life, the Midheaven represents your goals in life. But, you kind of need one to get the other. It’s why both of these angles can feel so interchangeable and they do have a way of really feeding each other.

Both angles show how people view us from a certain distance, whether it’s a literal distance or a metaphorical one. Their opposing angles, the Descendant/7th House and the Nadir/4th House, are much more up close and personal, showing the way that our romantic partners and good friends (7th House) and the people who we call family (4th House) experience us. The 1st and 10th House, however, are less personal. Strangers can see us through either angle, depending on how they’re viewing us. People we’ve just met or have only briefly known are leaning more toward our Ascendant. Bosses, co-workers, and other professional collaborators are getting more of a taste of our Midheaven. When someone knows you but doesn’t know you, they are looking at you through either the 1st or the 10th. That’s not to say that either angle is false or just an act. But, there is a sense of strategy to these placements that allows us to navigate the world.

Let’s say you’re out at your party. Anyone who is not too familiar with you is going to experience either angle. When they’re just looking at you from across the room, they’re looking at your Midheaven and any planets that might be conjunct it. While we don’t really “look” like our Midheaven, we are going to seem like it. I think the Midheaven is how you would make your way through the party; your “goal” in that situation. What do you want the night to be like? How do you want people to talk about you (or not talk about you) after? Whether you freely socialize and talk to everyone, try to get attention, remain a wallflower, or just stick to the few people you know, you are on a certain mission at the party via your Midheaven.

Now, if someone strolled up to you and began talking to you, then they would be getting your Ascendant and anything conjunct it. Your Ascendant is how you’re going to carry yourself and behave at the party; your “approach” in the situation. Again, it’s rather similar but also different. Your Midheaven may cause you to stick to your squad that night or gravitate toward the center of attention but the Ascendant will determine how you do so: loudly, quietly, glamorously, unpretentiously, etc. It’s especially visible when you’re dealing with new or not-so-familiar people. I like to say that the Ascendant is how you initiate people into your get-to-know-me-process. What do they have to “get through” in order to get to you? Weirdness, niceness, talkativeness, coolness, seriousness? Since the Ascendant is ruled by Mars, we sort of challenge new people through its expression, seeing if they’ve got what it takes to pass through the gates to the more personal “us.”

It’s interesting if you measure this in regards to the same placement on the Ascendant and the Midheaven. Let’s take Taurus, for example. Now, if you have a Taurus Ascendant, right off the bat, you are going to strike people as being grounded, sensual, calm, and reliable. At the party, you’re going to shake hands and meet people with level-headed common sense and an easygoing, relaxed spirit. So, people will get the immediate impression that you’re down-to-earth, as this is your approach to life. Yet, if you have a Taurus Midheaven, your reputation is for being down-to-earth and level-headed. This is something people can observe in you, from a distance, without you even having to speak to them. Since your goal is to be secure and stable, you will be observed as having both feet on solid ground, in some sense. The more people associate with you, the more they will achieve this relationship with you that feels so solid and substantial. Then, inevitably, your widespread image in your community is of being grounded, sensual, calm, and reliable.

It’d be the same way with planets conjunct either angle. Someone with the Sun conjunct the Ascendant is immediately seen as very confident, charismatic, warm, and lively. Someone with their Sun conjunct the Midheaven, meanwhile, will engage in public efforts that, over time, display just how confident, charismatic, warm, and lively they are. The Sun on the Ascendant acts like the king or queen, while the Sun on the Midheaven achieves the status of the king or queen. This goes on and on. Both angles are clearly powerful ways to make your mark. It’s just that one needs to be worked for (Midheaven), while the other one is what you just automatically do (Ascendant). 


  1. Thank you for this article. I really enjoyed reading it.

    I've always felt that MC was a little underrated since most astrologers focus more in AC, but I think that the MC has a broader reach than AC.

  2. Great article. I've always been confused about this. I'm Scorpio Rising and my chart ruler, Pluto, squares my Leo MC, soooo? Lol

  3. Frankly,i am confused about how can anybody be confused about 1st and 10th house.

    Ascendant is your representation to the world. In the case of ascendant some (majority of people) are not aware how they represent themselves, unless they take some time for honest contemplation an even reality check with their close environment. Conclusion about 1st house: how you want to represent yourself is not always the case that your are rrrrrreally perceived that way.

    Midheaven is a BIG Deal - it's your achievement in the World and contribution to the World. In the Tarot it's a card of the recognition for your endeavors,- the Goddess of Wisdom of the World - Sophia is surrounded by Laurel Leafs - plant symbol for Wordly Glory and Succsess. If you have handle your affair in Life very well, with Wisdom and Grace, the World shows you the recognition andappreciation.
    Let's be honest the majority of people do not achieve the 10TH house...
    I am personally approach this house with humbleness. Everyone wants the 10th house...but assembly required and a lots of it.

    1. I would not entirely agree with you on the last part. I think if a person really knows what they want out of life, they're achieving their Midheaven. Not everyone turns their Midheaven into a reality career wise, especially if they're settling for what they think they should do with their lives, as dictated by society, parents, etc. But, a lot of people do go after their true goals.

      And I think that even if someone's career isn't totally aligned with their 10th House, their public persona will be. So, in one way or another, it's visible in everyone. It's the most visible thing about you, whether you like it or not.

    2. Thank you for your response, Wayman
      I respect your view...I do not want to argue. Still...

      Yes, people do go after the goals. People in general are always after something, you call it "goals". I see MC as a fulfilling of purpose, the great purpose you were born to accomplish. I have not seen much people coming even near, even it seems sometimes they are on the Top of was something not there yet,kind of...yeah great public "image" and approval of the standarts of society, but no greatness in the most cases, which is MC - great accomplishment, not just personal but beyond, personal contribution connected to the World.
      I am still convinced we may not say that if everybody has naturally 10th house in their chart, that they have accomplished the mission. It's my point of view and of few others astrologers.

      Even if everybody has the "natal" chart, does not mean they owe all the potential just because is their in the description of their natal chart. A lot of folks can not even handle their Ascendant...And IC - is quite often a "wacko". It takes MC in the area of a Dream.
      We may agree to disagree...

    3. I see what you're saying but how do you define "greatness"? That's too subjective of a concept. Everyone's idea of greatness or success can differ. It doesn't have to be some massive accomplishment because, yes, most people will never be famous or world renowned or do things on a massive scale. But, I think that everyone contributes something to the world, whether they realize it or not, which is why it's so important to consciously understand your part in society and do something meaningful and purposeful with it.

      I definitely see the Midheaven as being about purpose, as well. So, if that's the case, then why can't most people be in touch with their Midheaven? If you know your purpose in life, you, in many ways, know your Midheaven.

      The problem is when you make the Midheaven feel so larger-than-life and so out-of-reach. It's not. Maybe because my Moon is there, I understand this angle a lot more. It's just about knowing why you're here and living that out. And, given how many remarkable people there are in the world, I think it'd be unreasonable to say that not many people can do that. Again, many people cannot, of course. But, just as many people do answer the call.

      It's all something I'll talk about more in my 10th House article. I definitely don't think we're arguing, by the way.

    4. My apology for the late response ( was occupied to clear the path to my MC :), no kidding. Pluto has almost arrived in to the entry of the door of my 10th House.)

      So kind of you to share your thoughts so sincerely.

      I resonate with everything you have said, every word. What i have said and you said, it makes one picture.
      The picture is: the astrology is as Big as Life itself. Everyone is born to have their purpose.
      And yeah, some people do reach it and some just survive, even if they have a good looking job, even if they are famous. The danger, i really see it as a danger, - is if astrologer does not underline the huge difference between "image,- being tortured in the mirror of self reflection" and the Recognition of the World to people from the place of heart even if they are just collecting garbage from the streets ( which i do not mean in the sense of "even', we are all equal, and collecting garbage is a very respectful task).

      The thing line, very thing line is - the place of fulfilling the purpose of the birth to/in the World -is indeed the visible part to everybody in area of 10th house, - that's correct,- or it just the recognition from the point of pure survival.

      The line is thing. Some people look like they are at the Top of the World, at the happy place in their 10house just, because the "image" is soooo pimped up. Others are invisible to the "human" eye, because they are so humble and rrrrrealy they do not have any image at all. If you will be lucky to approach their humble world, you will sense enormous gentle power, invisible to the world.

      I am talking about accuracy, especially in the angle houses, those are visible spiritual houses.
      Yes, everybody is contributing to the world through the whole chart and it is visible through 10th house.
      The word "image" you used is not correct, somehow dangerous if you are not shining light to every aspect connected to "image". It might support a bias especially in the World, when as long as you have a right "image', you are O'K.
      I understand your point, when you have said that i make it sound like it's bigger than Life. We at the point in evolution, that if we understand the difference between "image" and "place of heart", - which can support each other absolutely ,- we all will live in the better world. But the understanding First! That word "image" has triggered in me that something what is "bigger than Life", as you said i make it, - that something what is quite challenging to bring in to the words.

      You are very good with words. I believe and doing it myself everyday,- trying my utmost best to speak, right from the language of heart. There are a lot of layers in our language to dig through to reach the sound heart. One layer was " image".

      I hope i did succeed in saying what was on my heart. I hope i am not too late for you to read.

      And thank you for sharing.

  4. Great one! Thanks for the clarifications!
    Scorp mc loosely conjunct pluto/Cap asc wh. moon, uranus, neptune
    I am a serial people watcher. realising how creepy this must sound.
    My cap asc is not that much into parties but I take everything seriously. When it's work it;s work, when it;s fun, we're having fun. I know my friends were surprised to see I like to dance so much and grab people to the dance floor (neptune happy feet).

  5. The depth of your insight is astounding, as per usual. Your articles are always a must-read. What are your thoughts on the impact of Mars conjunct Midheaven when Mars and the Midheaven are in rather "under the radar" signs? Mine are in Virgo and I struggle to reconcile this energy with my more intense Scorpio Rising (conjunct Pluto).

    1. Well thanks. Mars and Pluto are both fierce, passionate and powerful. Virgo and Scorpio are both sharp, insightful, understated. So, they're working well together.

      It's just that the immediate you is deeper, more soulful and mysterious while the status you achieve is of the busy bee who doesn't mess around and gets stuff done.

  6. I answered someone's question on this very same thing somewhat recently and gave them a similar answer. I said pretty much if you met a celebrity the Midheaven would be how they're portrayed in the media or their national/international reputation, whereas their rising would be how they would seem to you if you ever meet them in person. I realized that after I got an autograph from my favorite voice actor.

  7. Simply put...the 1st house represents your character which is the cause of your 10th house, destiny. Character is destiny.

  8. I tend to see the Midheaven less as how someone sees you right off the bat but as your overall agenda in any given situation. The ascendant I see as our go-to behaviour in achieving that agenda. Over time, if you're successful, you'll be achieving your midheaven agendas which will ultimately affect how people perceive you to be in the wider world. So in a sense the midheaven does affect how people see you but as a reputation for what you've achieved. Using the Taurus midheaven example, the more Taurean aligned objectives you have achieved, (stability, permanence etc) then the more your reputation will carry Taurean qualities and the more people will associate you with this character in public.
    I am inclined to agree with Yoshi in that it doesn't come automatically, this public perception, but the agendas do. Your midheaven will always influence your objectives but whether we achieve them with the skills we have learned or the talents we were born with, remains to be seen

  9. Thoughts on Pisces MC? Stellium in Gemini in the first with Moon, Chiron, Mercury and AC. Sun in the 1st nearby but not "in" the stellium.

  10. Thank you so much for this great article..
    My english is not so good, I am writting from France, but I hope you can get me good :)
    I am struggling to understand a very big scheme of my natal chart, maybe you could give me your opinion ?
    I have Sun/Uranus/Saturn in saggitaruis all conjunct MC (+Neptune on 10th but not conjunct) SQUARING my Mars & Jupiter in Pisces in first house, all conjuct AS.
    I have known lots of up and down in my life - I am 31.
    How would you interpret so many planets in square ?
    Can I achieve something in life only if I work on myself very hard (simply put) ? I have a tendency to give up easily, but I know I can do so much in live.
    Thanks for writting your thoughts by chance ! :)

  11. Very interesting ! I have a Libra rising and empty 1st house so, I have a "pure" Libra rising energy, and a Cancer midheaven and empty 10th house BUT I have Lilith and Sun in 9th house in Gemini in very wide aspect to MC, 9° for Lilith and 11° for the Sun so I don't know if it is considered as a conjunction but I have the reputation to have a "royal" attitude in public so I don't know, I don't have any planets in Leo or in 5th house so maybe it's this wide conjunction to MC...