What’s The Difference Between Cardinal, Fixed & Mutable Signs?

forestWhen first learning astrology, it’s easy to grasp some of the differences between the signs – elements, gender, etc. But what often trips people up is modality. What precisely, does it mean for a sign to be cardinal or mutable? What does modality represent? Modality is how signs act or operate in the world. For example:

·         Cardinal signs act. They are the tip of the spear, the cutting edge that paves the way for other signs to follow. Cardinal signs are first ones to jump off the couch (if they were ever on it in the first place) and say, “Let’s GO!” Because they are such pioneers, they can face lots of resistance, but they are more than suited to take on any doubts.

·         Fixed signs will. They maintain what is already in existence, and they keep the fires burning. They are the ones to plant their feet in the earth and dare you to try to move them. Because they hold together what wishes to fly apart, they operate from sheer force of will. However difficult it is, they are masters at powering through.

·         Mutable signs flow. They redirect energy like wing Chun masters, using an opponent’s force against them. They go with the flow and accept the constantly changing forces of life. Because they react to the exterior world, they can sometimes feel buffeted by the winds of change, but their sensitivity to the flow of life makes them more than capable of catching the right wave.

So when you’re considering what is means to have, for example, the Moon in Scorpio, don’t just read rote descriptions. Take these building blocks, including modality, and build meaning for yourself.

Does your chart lean toward one modality over another? What is it like?

7 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between Cardinal, Fixed & Mutable Signs?”

  1. The best part about that picture is that the a related picture in the search was a woman smiling next to a citrine geode that looked like a giant pancake. That is pure fixed sign goodness. 😉

  2. My mars Pluto transit is like that picture except the message over the forest is WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING MOVE IT

    I’m not very fixed and it’s causing problems.

  3. Well, modalities came easy to me because I am overwhelmingly cardinal!

    All my personal planets are in cardinal signs, except Venus which is in a cardinal house!

    * Sun, Mars, Merc (and North Node) in Libra

    * (South Node in Aries)

    * Moon in Cancer (double strength!)

    * Saturn in Capricorn (double strength!)

    * Uranus, my chart ruler is in my 7th house (a cardinal house) along with my Venus (and my Pluto nearby, conjunct my Venus)

    The very best group and job experience I ever had was as (cardinal) leader and ‘architect’ of a pioneering team that had the perfect complement of cardinal, fixed and mutable energies and abilities. It was AWESOME for EVERYBODY on the team and everybody talked about it for years after the fact. Everybody got to use their innate strengths and therefore to shine.

  4. Yes…Cardinal starts it; Fixed keeps it; Mutable uses it! Add the  ingredient of Element & you have the Energy Expression of a SIGN.
    Dress a PLANET in a Sign and you have the modus operandi of that Planet, it’s HOUSE is Where it lives.
    Planets connected to Planets = ASPECTS = combined energies & Functions.
    Ez Pz. ?

  5. I have a cardinal Libra signature. On a personal level, I can see how people appear to rely on me to take the lead eg. organising and initiating social events. I have actually tried to step back to allow other’s to step forward. They don’t ?, they just call and ask when I’m organising again.

    I relate to the resistance you speak of in a professional sense. Not everyone likes necessary change. My desire for peace and harmony is at times in conflict with speaking out and initiating.

  6. Love this. Venus in Capricorn in 8th house. Gorgeous Goddess pioneering the way, grounding my healing energy through massage and the body, whilst connecting to Spirit.
    She’s just been pounded to pulp by the Pluto mill so now in true 8th house style she’s rising again.
    Watch me.
    Here I come.

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