Joseph Campbell recalled a fairytale in his book 'The Hero with 1000 faces' of a kings youngest daughter, who was considered the most beautiful of them all. Close to the castle of this king was a great dark forest, and in the forest under an old lime tree a spring. When the day was very hot, the young princess would enter the woods, sit on the edge of the spring, and toss her golden ball into the air and catch it. This was her favorite pastime. And so the story goes….
Now it so happened one day that the golden ball of the princess did not fall into the little hand lifted into the air, but passed it, bounced on the ground, and rolled directly into the water. The princess followed it with her eyes, but the ball disappeared; and the spring was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. Thereupon she began to cry, unable to find consolation. And while she was lamenting this way, she heard someone call to her: 'What is the matter, Princess? You are crying so hard, a stone would be forced to pity you.' She looked around to see where the voice had come from, and there she beheld a frog, holding its fat, ugly head out of the water. 'Oh, its you, old Water Plopper,' she said. 'I am crying over my golden ball, which has fallen into the spring.' 'Be calm; don't cry,' answered the frog. 'I can surely be of some assistance. But what will you give me if I fetch your toy for you?' 'Whatever you would like to have, dear frog,' she said; 'my clothes, my pearls and jewels, even the golden crown that I wear.' The frog replied, 'Your clothes, your pearls and jewels, and your golden crown, I do not want; but if you will care for me and let me be your companion and playmate, let me sit beside you at your little table, eat from your little golden plate, drink from your little cup, sleep in your little bed: if you promise me that, I will go straight down and fetch your golden ball.' 'All right,' she said, 'I promise you anything you want, if you will bring me back the ball.' But she thought: 'How simple frog chatters! There he sits in the water with his own kind, and could never be the companion of a human being.'
"As soon as the frog had obtained her promise, he ducked his head and sank, and after a little while came swimming up again; he had the ball in his mouth, and tossed it on the grass. The princess was elated when she saw her pretty toy. She picked it up and scampered away. 'Wait, wait,' called the frog, 'take me along; I can't run like you.; But what good did it do, though he croaked as loudly as possible, she past not the slightest heed.
The ascendant of the birth chart is well known for representing the eastern horizon at the moment of birth. It is the ascendant where the Sun first reveals itself at sunrise, and makes its arc through the visible sky. It is this reason that the degree of the zodiac that is on the horizon at birth is also referred to as ones Rising sign.
The ascendant is also considered the cusp, or beginning point of the first house. It is often associated with what Carl Jung termed the "persona", essentially the personality that is brought forward, or is used to represent oneself to the collective.
What the ascendant truly is, is a midpoint of the realm of the objective, or all that is above the horizon, and the subjective, or that which is below the horizon. In the case of the fairy tale, we find a young girl that experiences a moment in her life where the Sun truly dips below the horizon, into the subjective realm of self. The golden ball falling into the spring is the Sun dipping below the horizon. This is a story of a critical moment when a person, in this case the princess, must journey into her self and come face to face with aspects which are unconscious to her. The frog is the creature that represents these aspects, and she must assimilate this in some degree before the Sun makes its journey back to the rising point, which is symbolized by the frog diving into the spring to bring back the golden ball.
Also important in the tale is that the girl is considered the most beautiful, and has been taught to value the material possessions that she offers the frog, which is an animal that at least represents something NOT beautiful or refined. The inner world of the princess, in which lies the heart of her soul, that which makes her a unique incarnation on this planet, had not yet been explored by her. Her values thus far had been projected upon her and passed down to her by her father.
The ascendant is the midpoint of the 1st and 12th houses of the birth chart. The 12th house is said to represent the reality in which we find ourselves in this lifetime (what is revealed by the "light" of the rising body). In other words, our karmic circumstances in which the individual may find himself severely restricted in his success of being within the collective, or perhaps finding a great deal of success in wielding the power of ones inner seed into the collective. The 12th house is often referred to as the house of success or failure, and this is where the definition comes from.
When a planet rises past the ascendant and into the realm of the 12th house, is makes itself known physically. It confronts the native with a challenge; to yield or succumb, or to assimilate, befriend and join. Truly, it provides the balance needed, through a collective crisis, that can enable the individual to make the subjective changes necessary in order to transform into a resonance closer to the authentic self.
The 1st house is the realm that represents the most authentic expression of the self, in the sense of being completely unique and separated from all other forms of life. The ascendant does relate to the very first moment of birth; the very first moment of separation from the mother and the first independent breath of life. From this moment, the native finds themselves at the midpoint of an intuitive sense of who they are, and the projected definitions of who the parents, the key players, the religion, and the culture tells them that they are. They find themselves at the midpoint of the programming from outside forces, and the welling of the creative fire seed within.
The realm of the 1st house can rebel from its above horizon karmic polarity which seeks to project and demand upon the individual often contrary notions of what and who one knows themselves to be on the inside. However, complete rebellion ultimately moves one farther away from the SELF because the Self is not the ego, but includes the holistic essence that, once a person moves from the universal state to the particular through the act of birth, can only be represented by the OTHER. These others are mirrors of our unconscious and reveal to us the portions of our being that enable us to transform and become more whole, become more who we are.
On the flip side, it is possible to completely give in to the projections and mundane desires of our collective, and to ultimately find the true essence of the self imprisoned. It is the collective that truly loses here, because while it makes sense to many to follow the path of the group, we were each born of a collective need. The collective needs us to provide the necessary resistance and plant the seed of our unique consciousness in order to transform humanity.
The persona of which the ascendant represents, is colored by this above duality; who we have come to realize that we are both subjectively and objectively. We are each still learning who we are, and each new experience, represented by this ascendant, is an opportunity to both transform and become transformed by the individuals and collective agencies in which we encounter.
In my own personal experience, it was my 10th birthday exactly when my progressed moon moved onto by Cancer Ascendant in my natal chart. This can also be understood as simply an important moment in my life in which my experience would bring about a deeper reflection of what my particular ascendant, or rising degree, means.
I had a birthday party where I invited by classmates at school. I remember being an awkward kid that didn't consider many of them to be true friends, but allowed by mother to throw the party, maybe more so for herself than anyone. I really felt drawn to bake a cake for my own birthday party that year, and decided I wanted to make a cake of the video game character PAC-MAN. I first created a circular cake and iced it with yellow frosting. I then cut what was to be the mouth of the PAC-MAN, and I recall being a little upset that the mouth took up a greater percentage of the circle than the video game character represented. However, on deeper reflection many years later, I can still see in my minds eye the proportion, and how it was exact in proportion of the journey of my progressed moon from its natal position in my birth chart to my ascendant. Back to my 10 year birthday celebration, I recall not wanting to eat another piece because I had eaten the large portion that represented the mouth. And so it was this truly unknown, undifferentiated group of kids that were somewhat chosen for me, that consumed the rest of this cake. Obviously being a circular yellow cake, this cake could also have looked like the moon, and the cake that was served representing a phase or portion of the moon that was yet unassimilated by me.
Having a Cancer ascendant, which is ruled by the Moon, brings a greater importance to the Moons transit over the ascendant position. It also means that the intuitive facility is the most vital for myself when it comes to finding my way home.... to my pure, authentic center. We can run from this center by isolating ourselves within, or we can completely lose ourselves in the collective, but the ascendant always serves as a beginning point where the inner self meets the outer world that serves as its mirror. On that very day that I turned 10 years old, somehow I intuited and created an experience which served as a somewhat of a ritual, in which I consumed the portion of the Moon of which I had lived, and served to my unknown collective group that which I had yet to experience, but was to be revealed to me over the 17.5 year remainder of the particular cycle