The 12 zodiacs can be broken down into a myriad of different ways. You most definitely know your Sun sign - your “main” zodiac sign - which is determined by the month and date of your birth. Then, those who are a little more versed know your birth chart also contains your Moon sign (calculated based on the position of the moon at your time of birth and represents your emotional inner world) and Rising sign, also referred to as your Ascendant (this relates to the zodiac sign that was on the Eastern horizon when you were born and represents your social personality).
Each sign also belongs to one of four elements (also referred to as duplicates) - fire, water, earth and air. Knowing this can help you understand your nature and provide insight into who you get along with best. For example, Scorpio and Pisces might have their differences but they’re both inherently water signs, so they make exceptional romantic partners and friends because they can tolerate another’s emotional nature.
What are the 3 modalities in astrology?
Another lesser-known way of breaking down the signs is by modalities (also known as quadruplicities since there are four zodiac signs in each group). In astrology, there are three modalities - cardinal, fixed and mutable. These represent the unique ways each group of signs express their energy, reacts to circumstances and navigates through life. Here’s how they’re broken down:
- Cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn
- Fixed signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius
- Mutable signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces
If you were putting together a dinner party, for example, it would work like this: Cardinal signs would be the ones who set the date, send out invites, organise the guest list and pick the menu. The fixed signs would be the workhorses who buy and cook the food, and set the table. Mutable signs would be the ones who bring it all together at the end, making final touches and ensuring the tablescape is just right.
So, look at your Sun sign - what’s its modality? Are most of your planets on your birth chart in cardinal, fixed or mutable signs? Here’s a breakdown of what each one means.
Cardinal Signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn
Cardinal signs are the signs that star every season. So, for those in the Southern Hemisphere, Aries marks the beginnings of autumn, Cancer kicks off winter, Libra begins spring and Capricorn is the start of summer. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, Aries marks the beginning of spring, Cancer kicks off summer, Libra begins fall and Capricorn is the start of winter. Because of this, they’re referred to as the leaders, trendsetters and “idea people” of the zodiac.
They’re visionaries - they’re able to tolerate new beginnings and change, and are able to make things happen out of thin air. While they might not have the easiest time completing every endeavour, you can count on them to initiate winning ideas and setting solid foundations.
Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius
If the cardinal signs are the ones who kick everything off, the fixed signs follow these plans through with their eye fixed on the prize. Known as the “doers” of the zodiac, they’re hardworking and are great at carrying out the plans manifested by the cardinal signs.
They love creating to-do lists, are trustworthy when it comes to actioning plans, thrive off momentum and they’re focused on dedication. Since they’re the stabilisers of the modalities, it’s no surprise fixed signs fall in the middle of every season.
Mutable Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces
As you may have guessed, mutable signs represent the end of each season. A plan can be created by a cardinal sign, built by a fixed sign and then perfected with a thoughtful eye by a mutable sign. Older and wiser, they known all things must come to an end and their role is to prepare everyone for the changing of seasons.
Regardless of whether these endings are good or bad, mutable signs have the power to enforce an intelligent and positive spin on any situation, bringing it to a sound conclusion. Often referred to as the “chameleon” of the modalities, they’re the most flexible and adaptable of the three signs.