What is the difference between Northern and Southern Hemisphere Astrology?

There are several factors to be considered if you are a Southern Hemisphere Astrologer:

The Sun moves into this hemisphere when it reaches 0 degree declination on the Equator close to the 23rd September each year.  This point is designated 0 degrees of Libra and is the start of the Southern Hemisphere spring because the Sun is entering this hemisphere.  It is the start of the Northern Hemisphere Autumn because the Sun is leaving that hemisphere.

So, in the Southern Hemisphere,  Libra is a spring sign not an autumn one and carries many of the fast growing, entrepreneurial qualities of Spring, yet remains and air sign that is tactful, balanced and people oriented.

Southern and Northern Hemisphere signs

Whilst the Sun is in the Southern Hemisphere it traverses Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. These are the spring and summer signs.  When the Sun reaches 23South27 declination it is at its highest point in the Southern Hemisphere,  this is also 0 Capricorn, the Southern Hemisphere  summer solstice,  which occurs close to the 22nd December each year.   It is normally a time of great heat.   It is the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and as most astrologers are from the Northern Hemisphere, Capricorn gained a reputation for being a cold sign.

Because of these differences  I have spent a great deal of my astrological life cutting away the seasonal interpretations of the signs that are rife in astrology books written by Northern Hemisphere astrologers and observing how this same sign works in Southern Hemisphere seasons.  This has taught me that the sign still has its intrinsic ‘flavour’ but can function in a different way.  I don’t have the space in this article to describe the differences in each sign, so will illustrate using Capricorn as it is the Southern Hemisphere’s  hottest summer sign.

Capricorns in the Northern Hemisphere are described as slender, dark, sad people with sallow skins.  This description fits a baby born in the dead of winter whose mother didn’t have sufficient nourishment to feed the child properly.  These Capricorns often don’t like water very much at all as they did not have much access to water immersion as a baby.

In contrast, Capricorns born in the Southern Hemisphere tend to be well nourished, big, tall blond people with skins that tan easily.  They comfortably take on the ‘fishes tail’ side of the Capricorn symbol and often love the water as they as constantly immersed in water from the time of their birth.

Capricorns of both hemispheres love music and have dry sense of humour.  Both types of Capricorns manifest the ability to skilfully manage all kinds of organizations and instinctively know how to put a round peg in a round hole and a square peg in a square hole – an ability that no other sign manifests quite as well.

However, most Southern Hemisphere summer Capricorns don’t manifest the killer survival instinct of their Northern Hemisphere counterparts because being born in summer tends to give a free, open lifestyle rather than the restrictive,  shut away, swaddling clothes, struggle for survival  type of lifestyle the Northern Hemisphere babies experienced until quite recently.

Do the signs ‘swap’ for the Southern Hemisphere?

There has been some talk that the signs of the zodiac tend to swap characteristics in the different hemispheres. e.g.   Aquarius in the Southern Hemisphere swaps to Leo. This cannot be possible and shows a lack of understanding of the nature of the Earth’s movement around the Sun and how this activates the Earth’s zodiac (energy field).   Aquarius is always Aquarius, but in the Southern Hemisphere it is a summer Aquarius.  Likewise Leo is always Leo, but in the Southern Hemisphere it is a winter Leo and this seasonal change affects the manifestation of the sign.

I understand this concept upsets the elegant structures of Northern Hemisphere astrologers, but their astrology is just based on observation of how it works in their hemisphere and often in the higher latitudes of their hemisphere, so is not relevant to Southern Hemisphere astrology.

Here is an illustration of the signs of the zodiac of the Earth and how they are energized by the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.  Click the illustration to enlarge it.

Southern Hemisphere Illustration

I have arranged this illustration with the Southern Hemisphere at the top of the globe and the Northern at the bottom as that is how it is for the Southern Hemisphere .  This illustration was created in late October and  you can see that the Sun has just moved into the Southern Hemisphere and is in the Southern Hemisphere Spring and Northern Hemisphere Autumn.

It is easy to see that the time the Sun or planets in our Solar System are in the Southern Hemisphere they are in the signs Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces so these are called “Southern Hemisphere Signs” and when in the Northern Hemisphere are in the signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo so these are called “Northern Hemisphere Signs”.

The declination = zodiac cycle

The signs follow this declination cycle with a small variable:-

00N00 declination on the Equator = 0 Aries
11N29 declination = 0 Taurus
20N09 = 0 Gemini
23N27  = 0 Cancer.    This is the highest point the Sun reaches in the Northern Hemisphere and is high summer.  In the Southern hemisphere it is deep winter.   It is the boundary of the Tropic of Cancer.

As the Sun moves back towards the equator we get:
20N09 = 0 Leo
11N29 = 0 Virgo
00S00 = 0 Libra. This places the Sun on the equator and moving into the Southern Hemisphere and therefore Southern declination.

11S29 = 0 Scorpio;
20S09 = 0 Sagittarius;
23S27 = 0 Capricorn and the highest point the Sun reaches in the Southern Hemisphere. This is high summer in the Southern Hemisphere and deep winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the boundary of the Tropic of Capricorn.

As the Sun starts moving back towards the equator
20S09 = 0 Aquarius;
11S29 = 0 Pisces
and back to the equator at 00N00 declination and 0 Aries.

Knowing this it is easy to determine whether a planet is in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere by checking whether it is in a Southern or Northern Hemisphere sign.

Northern Hemisphere Illustration

Here is an illustration of this cycle from a Northern Hemisphere perspective:  Click the illustration to enlarge:

Lunar Declination Astrology

This strongly affects a form of lunar declination astrology, which suggests that when the Progressed Moon is moving into Northern declination then matters tend to progress in the outer world and when it moves into Southern declination then matters tend to move inward and become more private.  In the Southern Hemisphere this is likely to be the reverse.  Regardless of this idea, I have noticed that if you have the majory of your planets in Southern Declination whenever transits, progressions or directions active these declinations it is a busy time in your life.  If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you are likely to attract people from the Southern Hemisphere to you. Likewise, if you have a majority of planets in Northern declination, whenever these are activated by transits, progressions or directions it is likely to be a busy time in your life.  If you live in the Southern Hemisphere you are likely to attract people from the Northern Hemisphere to you.

“Classical” or “Traditional” astrology

These forms of astrology are almost entirely based on the Northern Hemisphere seasons.  The structures of these forms of astrology were based on the observations of Northern Hemisphere astrologers over a long period of time.   These ancient astrologers didn’t know that the Earth had two hemispheres in which the seasons were opposite and so they mapped the way astrology worked in their location(s) and thought this was the way it worked for the whole world.   It is an elegant form of astrology and possibly still quite relevant to people who were born in the mid latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere but doesn’t make any sense at all for those born in the Southern Hemisphere or even those born in the tropics.

The whole system of dignity, exaltation, detriment and fall are derived from the Zodiac signs connected to the Northern Hemisphere seasons  and obviously this cannot be the case in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are reversed – it is high summer and very hot in the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius and dead of winter and cold in the signs of Cancer and Leo –  therefore the actual reasons these signs carry the dignity and detriment of the Sun and Moon is not the case in the Southern Hemisphere.

I started learning astrology in the late ’60’s;  even in those early days I questioned how this system could possibly work in the Southern Hemisphere – there is no reason at all why astrology derived from Northern Hemisphere mid latitude seasons would affect the whole world.   I also observed that people didn’t behave the way the Northern Hemisphere text books said they should when they had planets in detriment and fall.  For this reason I turned to Cosmobiology in the mid 70’s as this system doesn’t rely on signs and seasons and works beautifully.  Over the next decade or so I worked out to my own satisfaction  how the signs manifested in the Southern Hemisphere and eventually discarded the concepts of dignity, exaltation, detriment and fall for this hemisphere and for those born in the tropics.

North and South Nodes

Another area that may change in interpretation is the North and South Lunar Nodes.

The North Node is determined from the position of the Moon when it crosses the ecliptic from South to North.  The South Node of the Moon is determined from when the Moon crosses the ecliptic from North to South.  As you can see from the above illustration, the ecliptic is not the same as the equator so the Moon can be in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere when it makes the crossings.

In tropical astrology the North Node of the Moon is considered the path we are taking in the future and the South Node the qualities we have already developed.  Is this concept based on a Northern Hemisphere ‘bias’ in astrological thinking i.e. the North latitude as the important focus?  Perhaps, as we have a Southern Hemisphere focus, the South Node of the Moon is the path we are taking and the North Node the qualities we have already developed.


As a large proportion of the Caucasian population in the Southern Hemisphere have Northern Hemisphere ancestry, Southern Hemisphere astrology is still in its infancy.  I think it takes some time for the genetic structure to adjust to a Southern Hemisphere orientation.  People who are first or second generation Southern Hemisphere Caucasians will still tend to be physically aligned to the Northern Hemisphere and its astrology.  People who are fifth or sixth generation Southern Hemisphere Caucasians may well have changed their orientation to the Southern Hemisphere and be patterned to this hemisphere’s seasonal manifestation of the zodiac signs.

To illustrate, I recently attended a workshop on “Classical” astrology and was interested to see that almost all the attendees were people born in the Northern Hemisphere or were first generation births in the Southern Hemisphere.  Those astrologers whose families had lived in the Southern hemisphere longer than that didn’t seem to be interested in this system unless they had  their own personal agenda connected to this form of astrology.

There is so much Northern Hemisphere bias that even the regularly used maps of the world are disproportional.  Here is a link to the Peters Projection World Map, which gives the correct proportions of the land mass.  Here is a link to a map of the Earth with the Southern Hemisphere on the top;   https://www.flourish.org/upsidedownmap/    For a northern hemisphere person  this must be very strange, but it is just as valid as maps with the Northern Hemisphere at the top.

Copyright (c) Alice Portman April 2010

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