You may have heard of declinations, parallels and contraparallels in astrology but not known how they are calculated or why they are used. We’ll delve into what they are astronomically and how they are interpreted in this article.
Now using our tools, they are very easy to calculate. Simply create a birth chart and scroll down to the bottom to the section titled “Declinations” - there is a link there to open chart settings. Then simply click “View Declinations” and close the settings box.
Your birth chart declinations will look something like this:
You can also view declinations, parallels and contraparallels within a Synastry chart with our synastry tool. The idea is the same as with the birth chart, except the parallels and contraparallels represent the connections between two individual’s charts.
What exactly are Declinations?
When we draw your chart, we depict it as a perfect circle. It appears as if all the planets are on the same plane. In a rough sense, they are. They zodiac is a "belt" of the fixed stars that run along the the ecliptic, which is the path the Sun takes along the earth. This is the same plane that all of the planets are on.
Now because the Earth is tilted as it rotates, the ecliptic plane is actually 23.4° degrees apart from our Equator. This ecliptic plane wraps around our Earth, only crossing our equator at two points. The rest of the ecliptic plane falls either in the Northern or Southern hemisphere.
This makes sense - during part of the year the Sun moves further to the North (in the North that would be summer), and during other parts, it moves further to the South (in the North, that would be winter). Guess what? All the planets do the same thing. Sometimes they are more tilted to the North, sometimes to the South.
Currently, our flat plane of the astrological birth chart has no way to depicting if they are in the North or South when in a sign. Depending on the time of year and location, they could be in Leo in the North or in Leo in the South, for example. This is where declination comes in.
Declination is an extra point of information which lets us know if relative to the equator, if the planet is North or South and to what latitude on the celestial sphere it holds. Take a look at this graphic to visualize this concept:
As you see, the black line is the equator, and the red line is the path of the ecliptic (on which the zodiac lies and the Sun travels through). The declination is the latitude of any given body on the ecliptic from the celestial equator.
So how does Astrology use Declinations?
If planets are at the same declination North or South, they are considered "Parallel". If they are at the same declination but one is in the North and the other is in the South, they are considered "Contraparallel".
Using the declinations listed in the first table earlier in this article, we see that Mercury's declination is at 20° 37' S. Mars meanwhile is at 21° 36' S. These two are parallel, as they are a degree apart and both in the Southern hemisphere. This is usually interpreted very similarly to the conjunction.
Planets in the same sign and declination appear to be right next to each other in the sky! For this reason, if they are also conjunct, this aspect would be greatly amplified.
Meanwhile, Neptune's declination was 8° 54' S and the North Node's was at 8° 13' N. They are at the same declination but in opposite hemispheres and thus they are considered contraparallel. This is usually interpreted very similarly to the opposition.
Our tools offer a very simple way to view the Parallel and Contraparallels in your chart without needing to calculate them by hand. For birth charts, we use an orb of 1, while for synastry charts we use a tighter orb of 0.7 because there are so many planets involved.
How are Declinations used in Synastry?
In Synastry, planets from two individual’s charts are compared. If one individual’s planet is at the same declination and hemisphere as another individual’s planet, they are considered to be parallel.
Let’s take the example of Kim Kardashian and her mother Kris Jenner. See their synastry chart in full here. Here are their declinations:
Interestingly, they only have one parallel - Kris Jenner’s North Node in 22° 59' S is parallel Kim Kardashian’s Mars in 22° 17' S. In their own personal charts, both of these planets fall into the sign of Sagittarius making this a point of strong resonance with both of them. The parallel amplifies the effect of the conjunction. Since the North Node represents the growth of the soul in more subtle ways - Kris’s soul growth is very intertwined with Kim’s choices of action and exploration.
This offers a starting point for the interpretation of parallels and contraparallels in charts. I hope this feature will be useful to you!