Most Astrologers are familiar with the concept of Ecliptic Longitude, which is measured from 0 degrees at the start of Aries through 180 degrees at the start of Libra and up to 360 degrees at the very end of Pisces. Sometimes the Ecliptic Longitude of a planet is expressed in degrees from 0 to 360, though it is more common to refer to the position in a Zodiac Sign from 0 to 30 degrees. Thus a planet with Ecliptic Longitude 108 degrees would more normally be expressed as being in 18 degrees of the sign Cancer. Another planet with Ecliptic Longitude 228 degrees would be in 18 degrees of the sign Scorpio, and in trine aspect to the first.
However, planets are rarely positioned exactly on the Ecliptic and in practice some of them are often a few degrees North or South of the Ecliptic. The Moon can be more than 5 degrees North or South of the Ecliptic, while Venus can be over 8 degrees North or South of the Ecliptic when close to the Earth. Pluto has a highly inclined orbit which can give it nearly 18 degrees of Ecliptic Latitude.
The Equal House system ignores Ecliptic Latitude, and works very well, but it is interesting to consider the effects of Ecliptic Latitude, since they may throw extra light on a horoscope interpretation. A couple of examples of situations where Ecliptic Latitude might be important include the following.
Planets near the angles, particularly the Ascendant and Descendant. Suppose you were born in Edinburgh, Scotland, (geographic latitude 56 degrees North), and have a sign of short ascenscion, such as Pisces, on the Ascendant. Suppose you have 10 degrees of Pisces rising, with the Moon in 20 degrees of Pisces. You will have the Moon in the first house. But suppose the North Lunar Node is in Sagittarius, and that the Moon has Ecliptic Latitude of 5 degrees North. Even though in the horoscope the Moon is comfortably within the first house, the Moon will actually have already risen, and will be visible (on a clear day!) above the horizon, in what would normally be called the twelfth house. Is the Moon in the 1st or the 12th? Going by the Equal House method, the Moon should be interpreted as being in the 1st house, while astronomically, (and in Campanus Houses), it is clearly visible in the 12th.
Transits and progressions may occur at two times, once in the normal way, when the transiting or progressed planet reaches the Ecliptic Longitude of the natal planet or angle, and also at an earlier or later time, (sometimes several years earlier or later in the case of transits by Pluto), when the transiting or progressed planet is astronomically aligned with the natal planet or angle. There are various ways of deciding when this event occurs for the planets, but there should be no doubt as to when a planet rises or sets, thus being physically conjunct the Eastern or Western Horizon respectively. Thus since my Ascendant is 29 Gemini, I know that Pluto in 10 degrees of Sagittarius (and with 11 degrees North latitude) is physically crossing my Western Horizon in 1999, despite the fact that it is still 19 degrees away from my Descendant along the Ecliptic, and will not reach 29 degrees of Sagittarius until 2007! (Please see diagram)
As to how to interpret these differences, all I can say is that in my experience, the Equal House method seems to represent what is experienced at an inner level, while the methods which take into account Ecliptic Latitude relate more to outer circumstances and events.
Often there is little difference between the positions in the two methods of calculation, and it is not surprising that certain motivations and feelings are closely associated with certain outer circumstances and events. Since I have several planets with large Ecliptic Latitude in my own chart, I am perhaps motivated to explore the possible implications of Ecliptic Latitude in horoscope interpretation!
Page Created March 4th 1999.
Last Update April 17th 1999. Thank you for visiting.