Your Rising Sign (or more specifically, your “Ascendant”) is the sign that was rising on the Eastern horizon at the moment you were born.
The Ascendant passes through all 12 signs in a 24 hour period, so even people all born on the same day can (and will) have 12 different rising signs.
Think of it this way: the Sun always rises in the East. Anybody born at sunrise will have the same Sun and Rising signs, because the Sun was rising in the East at the moment they came into the world. Likewise, if you’re born at sunset, you’ll have your Ascendant in the sign opposite the Sun on that day. Today the Sun is in Libra, so a baby born at sunset would have their Ascendant in Aries, Libra’s opposite sign.
The Ascendant is also the cusp of the 1st House, in other words, it’s the very first point on the birth chart. It’s the doorway. The beginning.
(Here’s a link to more about the Ascendant in a birth chart)
When Astrologers write horoscopes, they’re faced with the task of generalizing what’s going on for each of the 12 signs specifically. You can’t see every single person’s individual astrological make-up, so you’ve got to be as wide open as you can with the interpretations. Those interpretations are always based on the combination of planets, signs, and houses - but in order to know where the houses are, you have to have a chart. And a chart has to have an Ascendant. So many Astrologers use something called a “Solar Chart” when writing horoscopes, a chart that uses the Sun as the Ascendant. In other words, they use the first degree of Gemini as the Ascendant when writing the Gemini horoscope, the first degree of Leo for the Leo horoscope, Capricorn for Capricorn, and so on. . .This works, but it can be misleading if you’re just beginning to learn Astrology.
How often do you read horoscopes for your sign that say certain things will be going down in your partnership “house”, or romance “sector”, or “the money section of your chart”? (Sidenote: my nemesis SM is famous for this and it drives me insane).
Let’s say you’re a Taurus with Pisces Rising. You read your Taurus horoscope and it says that all sorts of great things are going to just be getting started in your love life because Venus is entering your 7th house! But actually, since you’re Pisces Rising, your 7th house is ruled by Virgo, and Venus hasn’t been there for weeks.
On the other hand, if you read for Pisces, your Rising Sign, and it tells you that Mars will be taking an extended retrograde vacation in your 7th House over the next several months, that’s more likely to be accurate. In a true natal chart, the Houses (sectors, areas, etc) are based on the placement of your Ascendant, not your Sun.
Even more than all that - your Ascendant is your vantage point. It’s your filter, the lens through which you see the world. So it’s just as affected by any combination of energies in the astro-weather as your Sun (as is your Moon, your needs).
The more you start to understand what’s happening to your consciousness (Sun) versus what’s happening to your circumstances (Ascendant) or emotions (Moon), the better you’ll get to know yourself.
And that is awesome.
Turn, turn, turn…