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Declination Charts; A New Way of Using Old Techniques – Part 1 Date Published: 1996 by Bette Denlinger


Bette Denlinger Author Note:
Converting the declinations to their ecliptic equivalents makes sound astronomical sense and provides enormous extra information for an astrologer to work with in delineation. Declination conversions are the "hidden agenda" in a chart, that once took much effort to calculate and had to be tabulated in numerical lists. The cumbersome grid to erect declination charts has never become popular. However, now that there is a software program to quickly convert the declinations to their equivalents, and by using the standard chart wheel that astrologers are accustomed to utilizing, we may now REALLY look at declinations from the perspective of the traditional chart.

By creating what I call a "Declination Chart" and comparing it to the natal horoscope much new information comes to "light." Using the Declination Chart will revolutionize the way astrologers use declinations.

The following article is being published in the next NCGR Declination SIG newsletter. It attempts to explain not only the theory behind converting declinations into degrees of longitude, but also how to erect a declination chart and delineate it with several chart examples. - Bette Denlinger]


Recently I mentioned declinations to someone at an astrology conference and the person thought it would be a subject her group would be interested in since I "had something new". Declinations are not new — they are an old technique. With Uranus in Aquarius the old, traditional methods are being unburied and re-examined as is seen with the emergence of interest in Arabic Parts, the Moon's Nodes, and retranslations of ancient astrology texts.

My battered copy of Margaret Hone's Textbook of Astrology says to make note of planets in parallel or contraparallel and interpret those as mild conjunctions or oppositions. My older textbooks from the 20's and 30's lists the aspect interpretations for the planet conjunct and/or parallel, as well as oppositions and/or contraparallel. Raphael's Ephemeris lists not only the declinations, but also the distances apart of conjunctions and oppositions by declination.

It seems that declinations were given much more attention in the past than in the last twenty five years.

Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in Kt Boehrer's book, Declinations, The Other Dimension written in 1974. Ed Dearborn published an article in AFA's Today's Astrologer in the spring of 96. The sign of the times is to explore these more thoroughly, again.

Declination Charts are charts using the declinations translated into longitudinal equivalents as described in Kt Boehrer's book so we can better see the activity or "essences" of a planet, as Ed Dearborn called these equivalent points. Astrologers have only looked at the parallel or contraparallel, but by this method other formations may be viewed within a chart.

Denlinger Declination Charts use only the longitudinal equivalents and their solstice points in the common chart wheel to explore these energies.

So many times a transit appears to wait until after it is exact by longitude to manifest, or it "hurries" up and is in operation sooner than expected. The explanation by conventional astrologers is that "some planets have a wider orb", or "Saturn is slow", or, "this is a sensitive soul" etc. However, once you start using the declination equivalents you will see that the planet has another two locations in a chart, and that these are what actually are triggered when transits or progressions appear to be activated early or late. Declination Charts show the third dimension of the planetary energies and let an astrologer view it in the format that he is accustomed to using — the chart wheel. With a Declination Chart you will see where the planet really is located.

Parallel and Contraparallel

Traditional astrology asks us to look at the declinations of two bodies, and when they are within one degree of distance to consider them parallel. If both planets are in the same direction of declination, as when both are north, or both are south, we should consider them parallel. However, if one is north and one is south, we should consider them as contraparallel. These are then considered to have a mild effect the same as a conjunction or opposition respectively. The other keyword used for the parallels of declination is "intensity", i.e. the energies of two planets in whatever aspect they have natally will be intensified. So if you have two natal planets with a semi-sextile and they are also parallel , this semi-sextile will be more intense. Rather than ignore this as a minor aspect you may wish to emphasize this in an interpretation. If you plot this aspect by declination longitudinal equivalents and insert them into a Denlinger Declination Chart you will be able to see the energy more readily.

For instance, if we have that same semi-sextile, which is also a contraparallel, and it is to be interpreted as an opposition, doesn't it make sense to have the planet's energy noted in the opposing sign? If you inserted an opposition into the standard chart form you would have a quite different interpretation than with a mere semi-sextile.

Using the information regarding the ecliptic that we will delve into in the following paragraphs, it is sensible to assume that when planetary bodies are closer to one of the cardinal points these parallels and contraparallels will also be more powerful.

When you have a square of two natal planets, and they are also parallel, you can judge this is again as a very important and powerful area. The energy is reinforced. But it is the hidden aspects, such as the semi- sextile mentioned above , with its opposition, that you will not see unless you use the declinations. Astrology is always a matter of weighing and judging the relative strengths of aspects and planets and is a subtle art only learned by experience. The declinations are an important refinement . Unless you are using all the tools of the trade, so to speak, you will miss out on much needed information.

Explaining Declinations

When we erect a traditional chart (using the tropical Zodiac which has a measurable starting point at 0 Aries, the intersection of the ecliptic and equator), we place the planets in their longitudinal positions according to the signs. The signs are the area of space, divided into twelve segments, where we view the planet from a horizontal perspective. But declination is the placement of the planet vertically, above and below the celestial Equator. It is the measurement of how far into the pie-shaped wedges of the zodiac a planet lies.

If you take your chart form with its markings for each 30 degrees dividing the signs, and place an "X" on one of those lines, you notice you have room along that line for many other "X's". Place another "X" on that same line to represent a different planet that is conjunct the first. Planets conjunct by longitude run along the same line that appears to emanate from the chart wheel center.

If you then measure these two "X's" from the ascendant/descendant line, and draw a horizontal line, from right to left, that parallels the ascendant/descendant line, you will see that from that perspective the two "X's" are NOT conjunct. However, another planet located along this horizontal line would be in the same declination, and therefore, equidistant from the horizon. Not only is a planet (and I use the term planet to also describe the Sun and Moon for convenience sake) in a segment of the sky, but it also has a location up and down in relation to the Earth.

This is an easy way to look at declinations for astrologers before we attempt the astronomical theory.

Think of this:

  1. When there is an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon or vice versa, both bodies are not only in the same degree of longitude, but also in the same degree of declination.
  2. Occultations are times when the Moon is in the same degree of longitude and declination as a planet.
  3. Eclipses and occultations are important points in astrological study.

Now it starts making sense to pay attention to declinations.

Since the Earth is tilted approximately 23°27', the Sun's path marks a great circle around the Earth called the ecliptic. (In truth, the Earth turns and views the Sun from an angle). At the time of the equinoxes, the Sun is traveling along the line of the equator, and is at 0 declination, but at the time of the solstices (the longest day or night), the Sun's path is 23°27' from the equator. Those 23 degrees and 27 minutes are the declination. The midpoint of this approximate 47 degree swathe is called the celestial equator. So the maximum declination of the Sun can only be 23°27' North or South from the Celestial Equator and these 23°27' maximum areas are marked on the globe by the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

The summer solstice around June 21, when the Sun is at 0° Cancer, marks not only the longest day in the Northern hemisphere, but also the beginning of the warmest and brightest period of the year in the Northern latitudes. The Sun has reached its maximum declination North of the celestial equator. (23°27'N) While the winter solstice near December 21st with the Sun at 0° Capricorn is the official beginning of winter and the Sun has achieved maximum south declination. (23°27'S).

Out of Bounds Planets

When planets exceed this 23°27' area, north or south, they are called "out of bounds." Kt Boehrer interprets this as a planetary energy which is outside the ordinary. The Sun, of course, never goes "out of bounds", but sets the boundaries. Planets moving along or crossing this 23°27' tropical boundary line seem to denote extra significance, as do planets moving along the celestial equator (0°).

The activity of the Sun is most powerful within these demarcations known as the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Planets with declinations outside this path are perhaps not challenged by the strength of the Sun and can operate more independently. Perhaps we could also say that the planet cannot express itself along normally accepted lines.

Longitudinal Equivalents or L.E.'s

The premise here, according to Kt Boehrer, is to translate the declination north and south into longitudinal equivalents since astrologers are accustomed to using degrees of longitude to view a chart. If you've ever played the game Battleship you know you have two sets of coordinates to locate the hidden submarines and destroyers in the waters represented on a grid. In somewhat the same manner, you have the "grid" of the zodiacal positions and you will have two points of longitudinal coordinates to deal with when translating declinations, one being the declination converted into a degree of longitude and the other the solstice point. The solstice point will be important because we are relating the declination to the celestial equator and the 0 point of origin. The solstice point is the relationship to the 0 cardinal points of Cancer and Capricorn and marks the place when the Sun will be in the same declination but going in an opposite direction along the ecliptic.

If we go back to our standard chart wheel with the planets marked with two "X's" along a degree of longitude, and look at the horizontal line we drew parallel to the ascendant/descendant line, we can extend that horizontal line across the circle of the chart wheel. That line will cross the chart wheel boundaries at TWO places. In somewhat the same way, we equate the declinations to TWO points in space, except in this case we use the ecliptic for the chart wheel. And instead of the ascendant/descendant line we use the celestial equator that starts at 0 Aries and culminates at 0 Capricorn.

We are locating a planet in space not only by area of the sky, but also north or south of the celestial equator and relative to our Earth. A three dimensional figure requires the planet's longitude and the two coordinates of its declination. Three points are needed for the true location of a body in space. Captain Kirk of Star Trek set off into space using three sets of coordinates and so should we. Using the path of the Sun as the basis for conversion we correlate the degree of declination of another body to the same longitudinal position as occupied by the Sun in that degree of declination. Then we calculate the solstice point which will be explained in more detail later.

Since the Sun never exceeds 23°27.5' in declination, when we find planets that exceed this limitation, (those Out Of Bounds planets otherwise noted as OOB), we must then make an additional calculation, rather like folding the flap of a football end back in on itself, to arrive at the correct coordinates. We subtract the distance outside the boundaries from the declination and then relocate the planet inside this little football field shaped area that the Sun's path inscribes. See illustration and point "P". The Propaedeutics of Declination by Kt Boehrer and Minnie McNutt published in 1973 goes into more detail and prints a table of Zodiacal Longitude Equivalents.

Points of Interest

As stated above, when the Sun achieves maximum declination North or South (23°27.5'), there is a change of season and if you in the northern hemisphere observe the seasonal changes, June 21 is a time of warm weather, but not for another two months approximately do we get the brunt of the heat from the Sun. The Sun transits the tropical 0 point of Cancer and from then on the heat increases. It is a turning point. Conversely, the winter time follows the same pattern in reverse from 0 Capricorn.

And when the Sun is at 0 Aries or Libra, exactly on the plane of the equator, and at the other cardinal points, we have the equinoxes and light and heat either increases or decreases. This is the time when the Sun has no declination—it is 0. The plane of the celestial equator and the ecliptic are one at this time: the time of germination or harvest.

The path the Sun travels as it appears to move away from and towards the equator is called the ecliptic.

The ecliptic is so called because eclipses can only occur when the Moon is in or very near it.

It follows that planets at these degrees of declination, either 23°27.5' or 0° will be at a crucial point. These are the turning points of the solar energy. Actions and changes and events happen along the ecliptic. Therefore it would be wise to consider carefully any planetary bodies falling on these points by declination in the natal chart, the progressed chart or by transit.

Also, we should observe the times when planets or other bodies cross these cardinal points, either by change of direction across the ecliptic at 0 declination or when going OOB or returning from outside the solar path and crossing 23°27.5' of declination.

A significant point to ponder is that the Moon's Nodes in their approximate 19 year cycle are tied to declination. When the Moon's orbit coincides with the 0 point of Aries the ascending Node will be at Aries or crossing the ecliptic, and the Moon then attains its greatest declination to the Earth's equator during its 19 year cycle, about 28°35'. However, it can continue to exceed the bounds over and over again for several months. In 1950 the Moon's declination was at 28°44' on September 19th. About 9.5 years later when the ascending node crossed the autumnal equinox point ( 0 Libra), the Moon reached its minimum declination for the 19 year cycle. In 1959 this was 18°10'. And it remained well within the bounds of the solar path for many months thereafter.

Denlinger Declination Charts

The origin of the chart wheel is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun through the sky as represented by the circle of the chart wheel. Through the years this has come to be seen as a perfect circle even though the actual ecliptic is shaped more like a football. The chart wheel concentrates on the 12 zodiac signs and the 12 houses, the divisions of space that aid us in locating planetary bodies. Our printed chart forms show lovely, evenly spaced sections even though the zodiac is not perfectly aligned. Our chart wheels often ignore signs of long and short ascension. Even so, we are accustomed to this "mandala" for our interpretations and are comfortable with this technique.

Since astrologers are a visual group for the most part and accustomed to erecting circular charts for interpretation, let's start by drawing a chart using the natal ascendant and MC, as well as house cusps of the house system of your preference. Then insert the longitudinal equivalents only, and compare them to the natal chart.

The basic thrust of Kt Boehrer's book is that not only is the planet vibrating at its natal place by conventional longitude, but also the energy is active at the l.e. points due to declinational activity. However, a chart with both the planets and their l.e.'s included will be overwhelming in complexity since you would have over 30 points to view.

One of the other reasons to erect a separate chart is that you can see where this declinational energy is manifesting clearly by house. A planet may be in the 3rd house but have declinational activity in the 4th and 10th also. You can also see specific areas in the chart that are emphasized when several parallels coincide, perhaps by solstice points, but not by declination.

You must have a good knowledge of the natal chart before you can examine the declination chart. What you note by this method are not only conjunctions and oppositions, but also squares, trines, and the other array of aspects that astrologers utilize in interpretations. And most importantly, if the contra-parallel is to be equated to an opposition, why not insert this into the chart and show it as an opposition?

The graphs for converting declinations into their longitudinal equivalents can be found in Kt Boehrer's book Declinations: The Other Dimension, or by using the conversion feature of a new software program available for Windows through Solstice Point Productions by Jamie Longstreet.

Once you have those longitudinal equivalents and have created a separate chart erected for comparison, however, you need to make note of several items that will help you in interpretation.

First of all you should make note of any planets that are Out Of Bounds. These are special. Note planets near 23°27' as well as planets at 0° as they may be more powerful due to proximity to the ecliptic.

Then you will compare the natal charts aspects with the ones found in the Declination Chart. It is helpful to make a special list of the planets and note when natal aspects are repeated, showing an intensity of energy expressed. Also, you may find natal aspects that are not reiterated by declination. These are points to consider in weighing the aspects from the zodiacal chart.

By tabulating only the aspects in the Declination Chart you will note that sometimes the solstice points will interact with the co-longitude in unusual ways. You have a chart before you with 20 planetary bodies and every time one aspect is noted it is repeated elsewhere in the chart. But sometimes there is an interchange with these four points. This is the reason to consistently use BOTH the co-longitude and the solstice point in a declination chart. For instance, in the 1951 chart reproduced elsewhere Mars and Pluto make a square by longitudinal equivalents. But one "leg" of the Mars to Pluto aspect sextiles the other point. So, we have on our list: Mars sq. Pluto, Mars sextile Pluto. This is interesting. Here we have energies with NO ZODIACAL LONGITUDE aspect within normal limits (Mars at 17°45' Virgo and Pluto at 21°27' Leo) but making an almost exact square by declination, and the solstice points in sextile. Here is some "hidden" energy, that can perhaps be used both in the manner of the square and the sextile. Perhaps numerous opportunities for constructive activity (or explosive temper that could be dynamically funneled into productive activity?) The rest of the chart will help you synthesize the interpretation, as always.

Make a special note of any planets that are at the same degree by L.E. as in the natal chart. These planets are on the ecliptic and again, probably powerful.

Important also are planets that make contrasting declinational aspects versus the natal chart. As in the 1951 chart, by zodiacal longitude Uranus and Neptune SEEM to be in wide square, but by declination conversion we see a trine lurking beneath the surface. In my opinion, this means that there is a way to use these energies in an inspirational manner that is not readily apparent from the zodiacal chart.

I also think that by using a Declination Chart the question of width of orbs of influence MUST be reconsidered. You will see with these special charts that sometimes the declination equivalent falls a few degrees ahead of or after the zodiacal position. When ahead this is the trigger point for progressions as well as transits, and perhaps when after explains why some people continue to experience long term effects from transits that should be long out of orb. It explains, perhaps, the so-called sensitivity some people experience to certain planets. These charts may help us understand why one person with a Mars to Saturn natal square is often frustrated and held back, but another person excels in organization and ambition and has a way to utilize these energies in a positive manner.

Using the Denlinger Denlinger Declination Chart allows us to examine the one dimensional chart from its other dimension and view this other dimension in the manner in which we have been trained—on the chart wheel.

Illustration by Bette Denlinger.


© Copyright: Bette Denlinger





Other articles by Bette Denlinger

Denlinger, BetteDeclination Charts – A New Way of Using Old Techniques; Part 2

Denlinger, BetteOrbs



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