In our last lesson we learned about the astrological elements (fire, earth, air, and water) and now is time that we move on to the third ingredient to prepare for interpretation which is the astrological modalities.
Have you ever wondered why a Libra does not respond to life exactly the same way as an Aquarius? How about Leo and Sagittarius? There is a reason for this – every astrological element (fire, earth, air, and water) are divided into three subsections. These subsections are called cardinal, fixed, and mutable in astrologese (that’s the language astrologers speak) and these subsections represent the modes or quality of a sign. In essence, they represent the way that the sign orients itself to achieve something in the outer world.
“Qualities (modalities) show the signs “energy flow” and describes the general M.O. of a sign – that is, whether it’s more likely to lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
The three modalities are as follows:
Cardinal — Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn
Fixed – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius
Mutable – Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces
Let’s Get to the Meat and Potatoes!
As I stated earlier each of the three elements are divided into three subsections. These three subsections have different ways of manifesting the elemental qualities of the three signs that exists within each element. In each case, the natural energy of the element remains the same. All three of the fire signs seek to find potential and possibility and keeps its eye on the future, all three earth signs seek stability and like to create concrete structures in order to manifest life concretely, all three air signs seek to find meaningful patterns in order to perceive in a logical manner in which everything follows a system or pattern, and all three water signs seek to find meaning through its relationship with others and its tribalistic connection to an honored past. However, each of the three signs achieve results in vastly different ways and a signs modality describes how the sign is going to take action.
The Cardinal Signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn)
The cardinal signs are the go-getters of the zodiac. They love to start things up and get things rolling. In the Jewish or Kabbalistic tradition, the world was created while the Sun was in the sign of Libra. On day one (or 1 degree of Libra), the Hebrew Yahweh created the heavens and the earth and the process of creation began. The cardinal signs are the ones that come up with all the wonderful ideas and are constantly in a state of creating, but unfortunately they often do not finish the projects they begin because they are quickly moving after the next thing. They are natural leaders and they are often the instigators of action in the world. However, when the cardinal planet is not working properly or operating from the shadow, they can be controlling, impatient, forceful, and conniving. The cardinal signs need to realize that although they may create the most perfect mold, it is necessary to let the cement set in order for a structure to have a solid foundation.
The Fixed Signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius)
The fixed signs are the ‘stubborn’ signs of the zodiac. They do not like to be pushed around and if you try to force them to do anything, you will find yourself in a pitch battle that you will most likely lose – that is unless you are fixed yourself and then you have achieved the classic ‘stalemate”. Planets in the fixed signs are stable, like to get things done, and love to complete projects. Whereas, cardinal signs like to begin things they often leave the fixed signs to manage them. Fixed signs have enormous endurance and can often patiently wait for things to occur or manifest; whereas, the other modalities may have either moved on to the next thing or given up hope out of boredom. However, this stabilizing quality of fixed signs often leads to rigidity and once a habit is formed it’s difficult to get them to let go of it. Fixed signs like to feel established and are very determined to achieve their goals. However, when the fixed planet is not working properly or is operating from the shadow, they can be obstinate, resistant to change, and their internal growth becomes stifled because they often stay stuck in their circumstances. It is necessary for fixed signs to realize that although having a stable foundation and reliability are great qualities to have; sometimes, one must allow change to occur in order to stay with the times to foster future growth.
The Mutable Signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces)
The mutable signs like to remain flexible and keep all their options open. Unlike cardinal signs that like to get things rolling and fixed signs that like to manage things, mutable signs like to remain interested in anything that they are interested in – and usually a lot of different things are on their never ending menus. If mutable signs become disinterested in something they will often find something else that catches their attention and move on to it quickly without any regret. Out of all three modalities, mutable signs are the most adjustable and adaptable to circumstances or situations. They welcome change in its variety of manifestations because change is interesting and the last thing a mutable sign wants to be is bored. Mutable signs like to avoid strife because conflict requires mental effort which mutable signs would rather use on things they may enjoy. Mutable signs like to be flexible, versatile, and malleable. However, when the mutable planet is not working properly or is operating from the shadow, they can be scattered, unfocused, distracted, and restless. People with a majority of mutable planets need to realize that life is about change and adaptability, yet sometimes it is necessary to take charge and formulate decisions in order to find solid meaning in life. Although mutable signs are the classic “jack of all trades”, they often make the mistake of never being a master of anything.
Putting It All Together
In our last lesson, we added up the planets to find out which element dominated the horoscope. It might be beneficial for you to review that lesson once again. We will do that again for the modalities – here is a cheat sheet for the astrological glyphs if you need them. I will list them out for those who are not familiar with the glyph symbols.
Here is a list of all the planets currently in the heavens at the time of this writing.
Sun 09 Capricorn
Moon 29 Scorpio
Mercury 09 Capricorn
Venus 28 Capricorn Rx
Mars 11 Libra
Ceres 22 Libra
Jupiter 17 Cancer Rx
Saturn 21 Scorpio
Chiron 10 Pisces
Uranus 9 Aries
Neptune 4 Pisces
Pluto 12 Capricorn
8 planets in cardinal signs (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto)
2 planets in fixed signs (Moon and Saturn)
2 planets in mutable signs (Chiron and Neptune)
The current astrological planetary positions are overwhelmingly cardinal. Someone born on this particular day (and I am sure that many babies were), leans towards being an initiator and go-getter. Goals will be achieved by going out into the world to make things happen. They are natural leaders, inventive, and will take charge of a situation or circumstance if given a chance. However, with both fixed and mutable planets deficient, it may be difficult for them to sit around and watching things develop, and they may experience difficulties communicating their ideas effectively because they have an adverse relationship with change. It will be necessary to develop patience and malleability to achieve the far-reaching success desired.
Activity 1: Get out your own chart. Use the instructions above and generate your own personal profile. What modality dominates your chart? Which modality do you have the least number of planets in?
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