As we consider each house, we would do best to consider them in four groups of three. These are called quadrants. Each one represents a specific aspect of life. The first house kicks off the first quadrant, which focuses on awareness of self. Whatever planets and signs we find in these first three houses will pertain to our feelings about ourselves, personal values, and how we communicate both to others.
The first house pertains to the your physical appearance, your mission in life, your birth, and your physical body. Any planets located in this house will cause the native to direct those energies inwardly or to express them introspectively. The first house rules the head and face, and its natural ruler is Mars, as the first house is related to Aries. It is an angular house meaning planets found within are action-oriented.
The cusp of the first house is known as the ascendant or rising sign, and is arguably the most important point of a horoscope. The ascendant is the sign that was rising over the eastern horizon at the time you were born. Just by knowing your ascendant sign, astrologers can predict your typical tendencies, physical appearance, and behavior.
But there is a deeper meaning behind the ascendant. In esoteric astrology, the rising sign is seen as the soul purpose of the individual. The sign on the ascendant is used to determine what ultimate mode of expression the native seeks in that particular lifetime. Questions like why did you reincarnate on earth? or what experience did you plan to have during this journey? bring to mind a sense of continuity in life, a meaning beyond simply work, family, and retirement. Depending on whether the native is a conscious, high-level being or a low-density, desire-satisfying creature, he can express himself as inclusive and humanitarian or base and hedonistic. His soul struggles with the inner conflict between purpose and immediate gratification.