Parallel and Antiscion: for the Solstice

The word ‘antiscion’ or the plural ‘antiscia’ has a very arcane sort of ring to it. In “A Paradox for the Solstice” I discussed its character as a mirror of the axis of the solstices.

In this article I would like to acquaint you with the ‘parallel’ which essentially is the more generalised form of the antiscion and the contra-antiscion, as the opposite degree of an antiscion is sometimes called. While an antiscion is the mirror or parallel point of the longitudinal position of a planet with respect to the solstice points, the highest and lowest declination of the Sun, the parallel considers the declination of the planet itself. The declination of a planet describes its distance from the celestial equator. So two planets with the same declination on the same side of the celestial equator are parallel to each other. If they are on opposite sides of the celestial equator they are contra-parallel. Simple enough if you have an ephemeris that includes the declinations of the planets. The parallel is so to speak a conjunction by declination rather than by longitude.

What is not generally known is that each degree of declination can be projected onto the ecliptic. There is a geometrical relationship between the two. This can be most clearly seen with the equinox points at 0° Aries and Libra which have a declination of 0° and the solstice points at 0° Cancer and Capricorn where the Sun has its highest or lowest declination of 23°27.

Now the parallel aspect need not only be applied to a natal chart. It can also be considered in primary directions. It is seldom used, but you will come across it now and then in older authors.

How does one find the parallel aspect points in a chart? The easiest way is to use a set of tables. I say easy as a set of tables can give you some idea of what generally is happening. A computer programme may help to quickly calculate a value, comprehension is however reduced to a minimum. I have two sets of tables. I generally use is those of Erich Carl Kühr, “Primär-Direktions-Tabellen” along with a table of logarithms. The Kühr Tables are useful as he includes the log tan of declination for each minute of right ascension, interpolation is unnecessary. All I do is look up the log tan of a planets declination and then refer to Kühr’s tables. So if a planet has a declination of say 22°11south (this is Jupiter’s current declination), I look up the log tan, which is 9.61040, this is quickly found at 11°35 Gemini/Sagittarius and also at 18°25 Cancer/Capricorn. Did you notice something? The parallel and contra-parallel points have exactly the same character as the antiscion points! The antiscion of a planet in Gemini is always found in Cancer, just as the the antiscion of a planet in Sagittarius is always in Capricorn. This tells us something about antiscions. The antiscion of the Sun is also its parallel degree (the Sun’s declination when projected to the ecliptic will always be the same as its longitude). With the rest of the ‘planets’ we are in a sense aligning the planet with the Sun. Jupiter has at the moment a longitude of 19°30 Capricorn, so his antiscion is at 10°30 Sagittarius. This means that earlier in the month he was contra-parallel to the Sun. If you look in your ephemeris you will find that this was at the end of May.


11 thoughts on “Parallel and Antiscion: for the Solstice

  1. Hello Thomas!

    I have long been a ‘closet’ fan of Declinations, and welcome any discussion on them. Being somewhat ‘mathematically challenged’ myself however, I prefer to use them via the Graphic Ephemeris that Solar Fire offers in natal work!

    I am however, keeping a weather-eye cocked on Declinations in Horary but so far I find they offer only ‘supporting evidence’ very similar to testimonies described via antiscia.

    It was Carolyn Egan of ‘Weather’ fame who drew me back to them. She relies on them a great deal in her work on:

    I love reading your ‘musings’ Thomas! 🙂


  2. Thomas, thanks for a very well done observation and information about declination. More and more the subject of declination is coming up and your additional information is most welcome. Carolyn

  3. Hello Caroline!
    I am equally pleased! And I think you are quite right in keeping an eye on them. If you ever turn up something interesting please let me know. I will also keep an eye out for horary charts where that parallel might just be the clinching testimony!

    PS thank you for the link. The Weblog also looks very interesting:

  4. Hello Carolyn,

    And speaking of weathersage. Here you are. Nice that you have stopped by! 🙂

    I was recently looking a Johannes Kepler’s work. He shows great iinterest in the ecliptic, and so it seemed to me that declinations may be one of those little covered areas that deserve more attention. And perhaps the same is true for antiscia.


  5. Hello Thomas :0)

    I have just been re-reading your article “Parallel and Antiscion: for the Solstice”
    As you know, I have been experimenting with parallels of declination in horary and wondered if you had any information as to their historical basis?

    Most of the references I find state that the use of ‘declinations’ is a comparatively modern technique derived from the antiscia, whereby the parallel of declination substitutes equal distances from the equator for the antiscia’s equal distances from the solstices. James Herschel Holden however says that the use of parallels of declination date back at least as far as Placidus. ( “A History of Horoscopic Astrology” p. 92) and Lilly of course uses the parallel of declination extensively in Book III of CA when calculating primary directions.

    I am trying to find out who first used them in Horary. I know they were used extensively by Ivy M. Goldstein-Jacobson in the middle of the 20th century, when she who interpreted the parallel of declination as “it is as good as done now.” (“Simplified Horary Astrology” p.79) But do you, or any of your readers, know who was Mrs. Goldstein-Jacobson’s source for this?

    I have been looking through my own source of texts, and find scant reference to the parallels of declination although there are several who mention celestial latitude. Dorotheus for instance urges us on the very first page of ‘Carmen Astrologicum’ to “Always, my son, before anything else, understand the seven planets in longitude and latitude. . .” as does Ptolemy in Tetrabiblos I.24 who asks us “to observe (the planet’s) latitudes, in order that only those passages may be accepted which are found to be on the same side of the Ecliptic.” Nowadays we appear to have lost the necessity for a planet to be conjoined both by longitude and latitude. I wondered if we had done the same with the parallels and contraparallels of declination?


  6. Hello CarO,

    I can’t give you an exact text source, but I can imagine that a more extensive use of parallels begins with the ability to calculate them with some level of exactness. On the other hand to a certain extent they can like conjunctions be observed with the eye. Along with the conjunction they are the only aspects that can actually be seen. It follows that their use might in fact be very ancient, as your quote from Dorotheus and Ptolomy suggests.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Perhaps another reader might have a more exact textual quotation?


  7. Hi Thomas

    I have been scouring my bookshelves and although so far I have found that the term ‘declination’ appears only in comparatively recent sources I am beginning to wonder if the term ‘latitude’ when used by the ancients did in fact encompass all ‘vertical’ movement in the heavens, and was not just a reference the astronomical co-ordinate of the Ecliptic system.

    The planets of course move both horizontally (as in celestial longitude along the Ecliptic) and vertically (as in both celestial latitude, and declination) and so I am wondering if in fact when sources such as Ptolemy and Abu Ma’shar mention latitude they also mean the vertical movement of declination?

    What do you think?



  8. Hello CarO,

    Yes, I think you are right. Changes in language can sometimes make an old phenomenon seem ‘newer’ than it actually is. So it is in fact very probable that that is what both Ptolomy and Abu Ma’shar were referring to.

    If you think about it a conjunction between two planets that are also parallel is truly a more seldom phenomenon and is sure to be immensely more powerful than when both aspects are isolated.

    Just a thought, could it be that cazimi is truly cazimi when the planet not only is conjunct the Sun but also without latitude (i.e. 0 degrees N or S latitude)? Might this explain why some cazimi horaries go awry?


  9. >Just a thought, could it be that cazimi is truly cazimi when >the planet not only is conjunct the Sun but also without latitude (i.e. 0 degrees N or S latitude)? Might this explain why some cazimi horaries go awry?

    ~~ CarO ~~ Well, Bonatti certainly thought so! He says in The Book of Astronomy, Treatise 3, Chapter 7 “On the Dasturya or Haym of the Planets” translated by Dr B. Dykes:

    “. . . and when (a planet) is with the Sun in one degree, so that there are 16’ or less between them, both by latitude and longitude (which rarely happens), it is said to be united, and then it is made strong, because it is in the Sun’s forge, that is, in his heart.”

    But we can’t use that excuse for any failings of Venus Cazimi on 9th June last during the European Cup Final! Because the distance apart of the Sun and Venus at Cazimi then was only 2 mins in Declination and 4 mins in Latitude! Which is about as near as one can get!

    Venus Cazimi really let us down 😦


  10. Good Morning Thomas

    I have at last found a source earlier than Placidus explaining the use of Parallels of Declination! Al Biruni in the “The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology’ written in 1029 AD.

    Al Biruni describes parallels in chapters 140, 141, 147 and 491. I copied the chapters out and posted them on the Angelicus Merlin group list should any of your readers be interested. 🙂

    Now, I wonder who Al Biruni’s source was?


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