The rule of three can provide a sense of wholeness and comfort in life. For instance, if you subscribe to the notion that events occur in patterns of three, then reaching a threshold of three “bad” things transpiring may make you feel calm and complete. This train of thought extends to “the big three” in astrology: your sun, moon, and rising signs. This astrological trifecta basically acts as a cheat sheet to who you are—and a much more comprehensive one than just going off your sun sign in isolation.
“You are not just your sun sign—or any other planetary sign,” says astrologer and tarot card reader Maria Sofia Marmanides. “You are a sum of all of those parts. By synthesizing your sun, moon, and rising signs, you gain a more cohesive, complete, and nuanced portrait of who you are, how you feel, and what gifts you’ve been given to navigate your life.”
“By synthesizing your sun, moon, and rising signs, you gain a more cohesive, complete and nuanced portrait of who you are, how you feel, and what gifts you’ve been given to navigate your life.” —astrologer Maria Sofia Marmanides
Below, Marmanides explains what each branch of the trifecta means. (Not sure what your sun, moon, and rising signs are? Input your birthdate, time, and location information into an online natal chart generator like this one.)
Sun sign: your soul and mission in life
Your sun sign—or star sign, or even flat-out zodiac sign you consult when you check your horoscope—is usually the first thing you learn about yourself in astrology. It’s determined by your birthdate, and it’s likely the strongest force of intel that informs who you are and what you’ll do. But, it’s hardly the only important information you’ll encounter regarding your astrological profile.
“The sun represents your will, your strength, your vitality, and what principles you are meant to embody and express in this lifetime,” Marmanides says. “It’s what lights up you inside, the topics that inspire you and give you a sense of purpose. By looking at where the sun was at the moment of your birth, you can gain a better understanding of what you want to achieve, and what you want your legacy or life story to include.”
Moon sign: emotional experience and sense of security
Getting in tough with your moon sign means getting in touch with your emotional world. Your moon sign reflects what you find nurturing and is key for building healthy relationships. As Marmanides points out, it’s also tied to routines, habits, and what we do to comfort and soothe ourselves.
“Because it’s so closely tied to our sense of security, when we neglect our moon sign, we can start to feel like life is out of balance or out of our control,” says Marmanides. “Our moon sign is a reminder of what resources we need in order to feel safe. [And when we feel safe], we are able to focus on our sun sign mission.
Rising sign: The key to your chart
Your rising sign, or your ascendent, provides perspective to how others see you. It may sound like a superficial marker of information, but the takeaways it presents can be crucial for seeing out your soul’s purpose.
“Often called the ‘mask,’ or public face you wear when people first meet you, the rising sign is even more than that,” says Marmanides. “It lays out the entire blueprint of the birth chart.”
Think about it this way: If you know that others perceive you in a specific way, you can use that information to tap into your other astrological strengths and get what you really want. So, let’s say I have a Virgo rising sign, and thus know people perceive me as someone who writes with imperceptible little details and communicates in a quick-witted Mercury-sanctioned way. I can take that knowledge and realize that those are helpful qualities for being a journalist and, well, here I am.
“More than just appearance, your rising sign is the tool you’ve been given in this lifetime to achieve that sacred sun sign mission, as you navigate your life from that starting point,” Marmanides says. “Look to that sign for key clues as to your cosmic gifts that are at your disposal, which you can draw from to achieve your goals.”