Q. I understand that the Rising Sign means my personality; but the Sun is my identity. What is the difference?
A: This is a good question, one that confuses a lot of people. The Sun sign is the sign that the Sun is traveling through at the time of our birth; it takes approximately thirty days to traverse one whole sign. The Rising sign is the sign that is on the horizon at the time of birth; the Rising sign changes throughout the day, traveling through all twelve signs in a single twenty-four-hour period.
The Rising Sign represents an aspect of ourselves that is illusory and evanescent, but very convincing. It is called the ‘mask’ by some, and it is a face that we are imprinted with, in a way. The Rising sign is our zone of familiarity, it is what we recognize first about ourselves, and how others tend to view us too—our self-image. This superficial image is validated by others, which makes it very convincing. It is very easy to admit our Rising qualities. If the Sun sign is in a very different style from the Rising sign, it can be hard to come forth with what we truly are, though deep inside, we do know.
Someone with Virgo rising has a fairly modest self-image, tending to see themselves as not very important and not tending to draw much attention from others, either. But if their Sun is in Leo, their identity is powerful and dynamic. These people are surprising to get to know. They seem so unassuming, and yet once we come to know who they really are, we are impressed with their personal power and creative life force.
The Ascendant can also be seen as a lens through which we view the world around us, and come to develop our personality based on what we see, and the reflection that it gives of ourselves. We learn how to behave from the view on the world provided by our Ascendant, and it becomes a habit pattern, a way to feel sane.
True self development comes when we learn to integrate all our other qualities, to tap our deep creative power (Sun) and all the other aspects that make up ourselves.