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On This Page:
I. The sky is not flat
II. A better moving picture of the planets – heliacal/vortex model
III. Declinations researchers & popularizers
IV. Parallels and Contra-parallels are major aspects
V. Interpretations of P & CP aspects
VI. Parallel planets in supposedly incompatible signs
VII. Out of bounds planets
VIII. Pluto’s declination off the ecliptic
IX. Declinations often create a better synastry picture
X. Celebrity examples: Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump
XI. Zero Declination: a hidden zero point of precession

The Sky Is Not Flat Like An Astrological Chart

Right ascension and declination, courtesy Wikipedia

Right ascension and declination as seen on the inside of the celestial sphere. The primary direction of the system is the vernal equinox, the ascending node of the ecliptic (red) on the celestial equator (blue). Declination is measured northward or southward from the celestial equator, along the hour circle passing through the point in question. ~ Courtesy Wikipedia

Astrology practice has unfortunately been stuck in a charting system that acts as if the solar system and universe are flat. The flat wheel chart depicts the planets’ longitude positions only, leaving off their north and south positions, the declinations. That’s half the aspect picture. For me this is unacceptable. Added information changes the picture and changes the interpretation synthesis of most birth charts.

A Better moving picture of the planets

Declinations researchers & popularizers

K.T. Boehrer actually led the way in revitalizing the use of declinations in modern astrology. She authored Declinations, the hidden dimension. John Willner, author of The Powerful Declinations, did as well, but was less known.

In recent times the Magi Society has begun charting declinations superimposed upon the zodiacal chart in an S-curve format. Some programs like SolarFire give a special sidebar aspectarian for declinations. Astrodienst will create a pdf document of planetary and house positions including declinations. (You have to find the declination aspects – parallels and contra-parallels – yourself).


Parallels and Contra-parallels Are Major Angular Aspects

Parallels (P) and contra-parallels (CP) are major angular aspects, just as important as conjunctions and oppositions, and function very similarly. No rectification work can come to a sure conclusion without taking them into account. In fact, some charts make little sense when viewed against the backdrop of the person’s life – until you look at the declinations.

Parallels happen when two planets/points are at about the same degree N on the same side of the celestial equator. Contra-parallels happen when two planets are about the same degree, but on opposite sides of this celestial equator.

I use the abbreviations “P” for Parallel, and “CP” for Contra-parallel.

Interpretation of Parallels and Contra-parallels

Interpret Parallels like you would conjunctions, and Contra-parallels like oppositions. However, because zodiacal misconceptions that can interject themselves into this, and because not all planets share the same general plane of orbit, there appears to be further explanation needed.

Parallel Planets in Supposedly “Incompatible” Signs

First, those signs that are in Northern declination, Aries through Virgo, there are possible P aspects created between planets in different signs, unlike conjunctions in longitude.

Planets/points in Aries can be P those in Virgo are moving through the area 0° North to about 12° North. If you’ve ever wondered why a Virgo and an Aries seem to get along together, get married and have children and stay together so compatibly, understand that their synastry may include P aspects between their charts that form bonds just as strongly as conjunctions do in longitude (flat wheel chart).

Taurus and Leo share about 12° North to about 20° North declination. Same story here. Yes, Taureans and Leos can have points of great compatibility too.

Gemini and Cancer share the area of about 20 ° North through 23° North declination. This seems a much smaller area, but during this time of decreased speed in northward movement, the planets are still moving at their usual average speeds in longitude.

Here is an illustration using the 2015 September equinox at dawn to help you match up declination movement north and south through the zodiac. Notice that while moving through Gemini and Cancer planets/points are at their highest northern declination. Notice opposite this, Sagittarius and Capricorn are where planets/points his their lowest southern declination.

Click image to see full size.
declination illustration

When the Asc arrives at 0° Gemini in longitude the declination is 20N09. At the 11th degree of Gemini the declination hits 22N00. Then at 20th degree of Gemini the declination hits 23N00. It passes 23 north then in the 11th degree of Cancer comes back down to 23N00 again. Then in the 19th degree of Cancer the Asc comes back down to 22N00. Then in the 25th degree of Cancer the Asc comes back to 21N00.

Reversing this for those planets/points in signs of South Declination, Libra through Pisces.

Libra and Pisces share the area 0° – 12° South declination.

Scorpio and Aquarius, 12° – 20° S.

Sagittarius and Capricorn, 20 ° – 23°+ S.

So in interpreting these aspects, we integrate the differing signs into the interpretation. P aspects between planets in Taurus and Leo, for example, allow for the best of those sign modes to be fused through the action of the planetary principles involved.

Out of Bounds Planets

I agree with Alice Portman’s assessment, “In my opinion planets that are out of bounds describe the ability to function outside of the box.” Don’t make too much of a planet being merely out of bounds. Look for aspects to planets, and for how it may create a necessary emphasis added in to the chart overall. Being urged to function outside patterns of societal familiarity is very important for social progress, creative endeavors, and original thought of all kinds. Look at these as gifts and determine how you will positively employ them for your benefit and others’.

To picture this more graphically look at this globe with the dotted red lines drawn where the Tropic of Cancer lies at 23°16′ North, and the Tropic of Capricorn lies at 23°16′ South. These are approximately the boundary lines of the ecliptic. Notice the path of the Sun peaks northward in July just over the Tropic of Cancer at 23°27′ North at the summer solstice (summer in the northern hemisphere), and the path of the Sun dips lowest southward in December just over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23°27′ South at the winter solstice.


This is declination. Sun and planets’ paths move in a wave form north and south of the equatorial midline. When they near this area of 23° north or south they are considered in extreme declination (where their movement north/south slows down). When they pass over the ecliptic (Sun’s path) north or south they are ‘out of bounds.’

Pluto’s Declination off the ecliptic

Irregularities come in when Pluto is involved. Its orbit is out of phase slightly with the other planets’ general course in relation to the celestial equator (north and south). This means that often it will make angular aspects (P or CP in declination) that are unexpected from its zodiac position (longitude).

by Todd K. Timberlake

Orbit of Pluto by Todd K. Timberlake, courtesy Wikipedia

At 0 Aries Pluto is about 15.5° South declination. It doesn’t hit the celestial equator +/- 0° until it is in early-mid-Taurus (about 10-13° Taurus).

When Pluto passed into Libra in October 1971 it was at 15.5° North declination. It didn’t hit the celestial equator again until it was in early-mid-Scorpio (10-13° Scorpio).

So you can see how Pluto lags about 1-1/2 signs behind other planets it in declination position.

Declinations Often Create A Better Synastry Picture

One person’s Sun-Venus conjunction in Taurus can be Parallel the others’ Sun/personal planets in Leo. This can allow for compatibility that conventional astrology says isn’t there. Parallels create fusion, unity in this fashion.

Venus in Taurus Parallel Pluto in Virgo makes for a deep, practical affection that may take a while to build cautiously and save emotional investment until one is sure of the mate. This can be a stablizing aspect for someone whose chart elsewhere has mutability, flighty indications, and sensitivity. An astrologer or student not looking at the P and CP aspects would not see this and what an important balancing factor it is for the person and would expect something different from them.

I’ve also noticed that very often there can seem to a lack of close aspects between mother and child’s charts, but when you look at the declinations, there is often a P or CP between Moon and Jupiter, Moon and Asc, etc..

Declinations are so important for the whole astrological picture that I often look to them first.

Celebrity Examples of Important Declinations (parallels and contra-parallels)

Jim Carrey’s birth chart not only has Mercury and Jupiter square the Ascendant, but because all three are right in the middle of fixed signs, they are in aspect in declination. Mercury & Jupiter are also parallel his Asc. This is a double shot of mental energy, jovial thinking, and antics.

Click image to see full size.
Jim Carrey declinations

These ilustrate very well the comedian’s verbal acuity, jovial nature, and his actor’s recall and big personality. These, added to the obvious Neptune conjunction to his Asc, show his birth potential for being a great actor. Carrey, not surprisingly, is also a big thinker, and has powered his career through optimism and a metaphysical creator’s approach to creating his life.

Another similar example, but with Pluto in the mix, is Robin Williams. Fellow comedians like Louie Anderson considered him the world’s greatest stand-up comedian. Here is Robin Williams’ data sheet showing declinations of Mercury parallel Asc and MC. Both Mercury and Pluto are conjunct the MC. In addition, note the parallels of Mars, Uranus, Pluto. Powerful bursts of energy.

Mercury is verbal agility, Mars-Uranus-Pluto is the potential of creative intensity that takes on a life of its own once it gets going.

Click to see full size image.
Robin Wms declinations

Look at the transits for the date Mitt Romney pulled himself out of the 2016 U.S. presidential race (30 Jan 2015). Saturn [18S53] was parallel natal Moon [18S57] and Jupiter [18S31]. (This chart is unverified, and has an incorrect Asc figure).

Click on image to see it full size.
Romney declinations 2015 drop-out transits

New York real estate developer and socialite, Donald Trump has some pretty extreme declinations. Just take a look at this summary I slapped on top of the common chart for him.

Click image to see full size.
Trump declinations

USA declinations Here is the USA chart (using the Asc 21SAG04 as validated by John Willner). Look at Sun Parallel Venus, Mars, Jupiter (re dots) in high north declination. Sun is also Parallel Uranus (purple points). Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter also are contra-parallel Pluto. That’s a lot of power, charm, energy, and appeal in the declinations of the USA.

Zero Degrees Declination: a Hidden Zero Point of Precession

Because precession is a backward movement of the earth’s axial alignment (wobble), it is implied in this declination cycle that as the earth moves from alignment with 0° Libra / 30° Virgo — or 0° declination moving slowly northward — that this could be a “zero point” for earth cycles of development.

Virgo implies impregnation and birth and the material supremacy of the iconic feminine (goddess) in this cycle with Libra implying a just, final balance between all opposites — integration.

The mistake of omitting declinations was — and still is — very widespread.

I will be adding more examples to this, but will make a separate page for them, since the list may get quite long.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Naomi C Bennett permalink
    November 1, 2015 2:21 pm

    very nicely done post.
    I wrote you an email.

  2. Kevin Austin Keegan permalink
    March 23, 2016 11:29 pm

    Thank you for this great article. It is difficult to find information on declination.

  3. ramesh permalink
    October 25, 2016 5:50 am

    but why many great astrologers in past did not see declinations? surely,can’t be lack of knowledge,or calculating abilities. astonomical calculations are all known long back. so,why such important thing is missed? pl explain.

    • October 25, 2016 10:33 am

      I don’t have any explanation, at least not a good one, for what other astrologers did. Maybe it has to do with charting systems and the human tendency for linear thinking (illustrations) about non-linear events.

  4. mana pristine permalink
    November 21, 2016 4:17 am

    near 23deg declination,a very low orb of 0deg-10 minutes is recommended(on sliding scale by some authors).in such case,1degree orb wont work being too wide for given declination? then what about 1deg-30min orb used by some at all declinations? what is the real standard? mainly,what is the logical,theoretical basis to decide orb@given declination? pl explain fully.

    • November 21, 2016 3:39 pm

      Functional orbs are defined by the planets involved, their energetic weight or size (luminaries, jupiter), or closeness to earth, and by the particular geometry of the aspect, not by their speed. We don’t reduce orb for planets in retrograde motion. Those aspects simply play out longer. The concept of orbs is from moeity of orbs, which recognizes the relation of the two bodies in aspect and what their individual orbs of influence are.

      I have observed that the luminaries have functional orbs of influence in the natal chart at 1.5° or more (especially in relation to each other), that Moon and Jupiter have up to about 1.5°. Other planets, around 1°. Of course, this tightens very much in progressions to a maximum of 0°05′ (five minutes arc), the Moon being the only possible exception to that.

  5. AMY Maddalozzo permalink
    March 3, 2017 1:09 pm

    I am glad that you posted on Noel Tyl’s web site about the financial situation and gave a link to your website. I personally have uranus/pluto parallel which many people of my age but uranus/pluto is also contra-parallel my ascendent

  6. Stacy Giffin permalink
    March 24, 2017 9:17 am

    Hi Kannon: Stacy here from NTF. Started a thread about declinations in case you care to comment (you are “the Guy”, after all). Am sure your knowledge could help us all! –thanx!


  1. About Rectification | Kannon McAfee - the declinations guy

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