This is a good question. These two angles can be hard to distinguish, in practical terms. I hope I can shed some light.
The Ascendent(ASC) is the part of us which interfaces with the world in our daily life. If I met you, I would see your ASC. If I was ordering dinner and you were my waitress, you would see my ASC. If I received a dish that did not taste right and I wanted to send it back, I would show my ASC in how I responded to the situation. If I was in a store, trying to return an item and the sales person told me that I could not, I would show my ASC in how I responded to that situation. If you saw me at a cocktail party, I would be dressed as my ASC. I would carry myself as my ASC. You would SEE my ASC
I am a Libra ASC. Our motto is compromise. We subscribe to the motto of “win/win”. Hence, in the above situations, I would want each party to feel as if he had won, through the vehicle of compromise.If there is a money problem, I will split the difference. I am be soft spoken.I am be gracious. I am refined. I do not scream, yell or demand my rights. That would be a classic Aries ASC aspect, not to diss Aries ASC, but to make a point for purposes of learning. The Libra ASC wants BOTH people to emerge feeling like a winners. That is a classic Libra trait.
As a Libra ASC,I would dress simply and in a classic manner. I do not like to call too much attention to myself by dressing too provocatively. I leave that for the Scorpio ASC. I leave the “glam” to the Leo ASC. I would not be loud or take center stage at a party. All my Libra ASC traits would be seen in casual dealings with me. This is the nature of the ASC.
When I go home, I am more than my ASC. When I love you, I am more than my ASC. When I am upset and “having a melt down”, I am more than my ASC. When I let loose and show my soul,, I am more than my ASC. However, when I dress in the morning and walk out my door, I am my ASC.
I am a Libra ASC, so am using Libra ASC as an example, but the same would apply to any ASC. Let’s take Scorpio, for an example. If I were a Scorpio ASC, you, probably, would not know what I was thinking. You would, probably, have to guess if I liked you, or even cared. If you met me at a cocktail party, you would see a self composed person who holds back. She does not play her cards until she is sure she will not lose an advantage by doing. You would see the wheels turning in my mind. I would not tell you much about my job, my relationships or anything personal. I would talk about the weather or the food at the party. You could tell by the look in my eyes that I was not someone to mess with. You would know, without any words, that I had a personal power that best not be tested.
Hence, in the above situations, you would interface with the ASC. However, the person is much more than his ASC. Let me describe the Leo ASC before I move on because I am writing this article for a Leo ASC, Tink from LL. The Leo ASC struts her stuff. However, it is not in a sultry manner, as is the Scorpio ASC. The Leo ASC is similar to a friendly puppy who just wants to bring you a bone and see your face light up with joy at his gift. Leo ASC may talk, talk, talk, and not realize that the listener has given clues by looking, furtively, at the door. The Leo ASC is, simply, like a happy child who takes so much joy in the world that she may not pick up subtle signals that would send another ASC running for the hills. Leo ASC would, probably, dress with care. She may match her shoes to her purse. She, probably, likes glam, glam, glam. She,probably, frequents the jewelry stores, but the purchases are not, solely, for herself. She is very generous and she will give as many gifts to you, as she showers on herself. She may resemble a lion, as in a Farrah Fawcett or Robert Redford. She may have a mane of beautiful hair as does her astrological symbol, Leo the Lion. If you met her at a party, you would see the traits described above, although one must understand that we are focusing on one part of the chart only and other parts blend into the ASC. I hope that goes without saying to all my Astrological Friends.
Now, let’s look at the MC. The MC is the angle facing society, in general. This includes one’s career. Hence, one may be very different in one’s career than in one’s daily life.Let me give a simple example. One may be a tyrant CEO at work, bossing the minions, at his pleasure. However, when he goes home, his wife may dominate him with a whip and chain(exaggeration for literary purposes) Hence, we see that the same person may act very differently in different spheres of his life. This general rule needs to be applied to the ASC and MC. One may know the same person in very different guises. The chart clears up the mystery of why.
Let’s use the same signs and this time put them on the MC. A Libra MC would seek beauty and compromise in her career. She may be a model, a clothes designer or a lawyer. She would likely be soft spoken in her career role. Picture a Gerry Spence, a commentator during the OJ trial. He was very soft spoken and refined. However, there must have been other sides to him, in order for him to be as successful as he was.
Let’s look at a Leo conjunct the MC. This native struts her stuff in the realm of career. She may be a singer. She may be dancer. She may be a librarian. If she is the latter, she will not be dressed in librarian drab. She would glam up the public library, such that little boys would find themselves frequenting the library more. Leo is glm. Libra is compromise. One more, if one has Scorpio conjunct the MC, one would be discreet in one’s career. One may be a detective. One may be a writer of crime novels. Whatever career one has, one will be discrete and circumspect.
I hope this explains a bit about the differences between the ASC and the MC.