The ascendant or rising sign (the terminologies are identical) is a very significant part of your horoscope. Your Ascendant is the sign that imitates your outward character and to a great extent governs how the outside world looks at you.
This is the sign that signifies your outer disposition. In short, it is your image. frequently, your Ascendant is what people first sees in you, the impression that you first make. Many astrologers are certain that your Rising sign is more directly revealing than your Sun sign. Your Rising sign has been compared to the door of a house, the entranceway that visitors first notice and must pass through to examine the house itself.
I have found that the persona you externally project is almost always an exact blend of your Sun sign and ascendant. It is this combination that makes your impact on the world. Your Moon sign is a more concealed aspect of your personality. It is an ubiquitous influence, but it is likely that other people sense the influence of your Moon sign in your character rather than see it on the surface.
Your Ascendant is the sign that was rising over the eastern horizon at the time of your birth (hence, your Rising sign). When you were born you left the state of being a fetus and became a separate, fully formed human being. Therefore, the sign that was rising at this precise moment represents your first experience as a distinct human being; it expresses the moment in which you began as an independent being in this world. As such, it exemplifies the way you deal with others and your individual style of interrelating with people. It speaks of your coping skills and how you react to anything new that life throws at you. In many respects, your Ascendant is the sign that makes you feel most comfortable psychically. Its behaviors reassure you that you are coping well and will be safe as you enter unfamiliar emotional territory.
Your Ascendant is called the sign of your self – your self-awareness, your self-sufficiency, your self-interest. In many ways your Rising sign signifies your goals, aims, and objectives, and indicates the main thrust of your creative powers. To some degree, this sign also influences your physical characteristics and mannerisms. It is your mask of outward appearance. Like any mask, it may hide your real face, but more likely it is simply a part of your real face. It is the face that you most easily and naturally show to others.
Imagine the Earth as a small circle in the center of a larger circle. That larger circle represents the heavens, the sky that is all around us. You, as a newborn baby, are lying on that small inner circle (Earth) and looking all around you at the sky at the very moment of your birth. If you draw a line from the eastern horizon of the Earth outward to the edge of the sky, that line marks the exact degree of your Ascendant.
When someone talks about being “born under a bad sign.” they mean the Sun sign (the sign that the Sun was transiting at the time of birth). However, when some astrologers refer to the sign that an individual was born under, they are talking about the Ascendant. In an earlier era, the Ascendant was thought more significant than the Sun sign, but since the twentieth century this view no longer exists. However, most astrologers feel that the line of the Ascendant is the single most important point in a birth chart, for many other calculations in a horoscope can be made once that point is established. One thing is certain: Unless the Ascendant can be determined in a horoscope, interpretation of that horoscope remains limited; it can never become a truly personalized natal chart.