The Ascendant: Two Versions of the Self

764e582ee7e14e41a1846c7c02305964We all don a psychological mask every time we enter into a public situation. The Ascendant in the chart is what represents this mask. Everybody has an outer surface, and when we get to know others we enter into their interior selves. The inside of a person is a unique piece of their world that is theirs and only belongs to them, and it is when we are not wearing our psychological makeup we reveal our hidden self. Astrologer Liz Greene associates the Ascendant with the Two-headed Roman figure of Janus.

In Roman myth, all gateways and doorways, visible and invisible, were under the rule of the enigmatic two-faced god Janus, who looked both forward and backward, and presided over all futures because they are mirrors of the past. Doorways are not just physical spaces through which we pass, but define separate territories and symbolize the link between one reality and another. The psychological boundary between self and others is invisible, yet as real and effective as a stone wall. We speak of being “walled in” when we cannot communicate, and we often “open doors” to invite another into the private domain of our feelings and dreams…The Ascendant is the point of contact between us and the world, and the two-headed Janus is a vivid image of the mysterious way in which our worldview is shaped, not by experience, as we like to think, but by our pre-existent images of what the world is like.” Mythic Astrology

“The 1st house has also been described as the ‘mask’ or persona we wear and present to the world and this is the face we show strangers, acquaintances and people we meet for the first time. As a result, the Rising Sign often hides our inner personality. It almost feels as if the world is a masked ball in which people are hiding more and more of their true selves. The 1st House, The Astrology Place 

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The idea of unmasking our fellow humans possesses a mysterious appeal.[/pullquote]

We always wonder what people are really like underneath, and when social eyes are not upon us, we’re at our most natural, dressing the way we feel and how we are most comfortable. I am not sure at what point in history, we derived these public and personal selves, but there is a definite boundary between a person’s ‘outer and inner life. Perhaps as the domestic walls enclosing us have become more solid our need to understand people as they naturally are has intensified.

Programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother have massive public appeal as we watch the masks begin to slip off and see more of the individual we otherwise would not see. We have two versions of the self – one private, the other public. When we step out of the door, we stride into our public selves, donning a particular style, adornments, and psychological mask. When we return home we throw off the public persona (mask) and enter into our private world.