The Ascendant: Two Versions of the Self

When we go out in public, we all put on a certain psychological facade, and the Ascendant in a chart symbolises that persona. When we get to know someone, we get past their exterior and into who they really are on the inside. When the scrutiny of others is absent, we reveal our true selves, and this intrigues everyone greatly. Our “inner life” exists on the other side of a wall from our “outer life.” The Roman god Janus, who has two heads, is the archetypal figure that astrologer Liz Greene links to the ascendant.

One’s private self is distinct from one’s public self. The moment we leave the house, we transform into our public personas, complete with a carefully crafted outward appearance and an internal shield. When we get home, we abandon our public persona (or mask) and immerse ourselves in our private lives. When we meet new people, whether they are complete strangers or old friends, we put on this mask that represents our ascendant sign. Therefore, the Rising Sign frequently conceals our true selves, and it often seems as though the entire world is a masked ball at which people hide more and more of their true selves.

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 Plain Vanilla Astrologer says, 

The Ascendant is like the first impression made by the guest who walks in the door for a cocktail party. When he or she appears, others react to what they see and the individual’s assimilation into the group begins. After a drink or two, the individual relaxes and deeper qualities – those of the natal Moon sign – usually begin to show. If drinking progresses to the “drunken” stage, the most profound characteristics of the sign qualities emerge as all but the core falls away.