Astrology is the science behind the stars and planets. To help us gain a better idea of what this represents, astrologers split zodiac signs into different categories such as elements (earth, air, fire and water), but they are also sorted into what are called modalities, or qualities.
When we’re looking at astrology, the quality or modality of our zodiac sun sign is how we interact with our environment and those that are in it. This also refers to how well we take on the unexpected, and how we move through challenges or even chaos.
Our quality or modality is all about how we take in our external environment, process it internally, and then decide what to do with it in our own lives.
The three modalities of astrology are Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable.
This means that in each of these three categories, there is one sign from each element for greater balance.
Depending upon which modality we are will affect how we express our emotions, our energy, what we are drawn to participate in, and what we commit to. Ultimately, our modality is how we come across to the outside world.
What are the Cardinal signs?
The Cardinal signs are: Cancer, Libra, Aries, Capricorn
Cardinal is all about control. Not that it always translates to having a leadership role, although Aries is apt to be in that seat more often than not.
It’s really about the need to control our external environment. Usually, these signs are the first to stand up and take charge because of this factor, and are known as the initiators of the zodiac.
We can’t start much of anything without these Cardinal signs, and while each of them takes control of life in a different way — Cancer is home, Libra is social scene, Aries is business and Capricorn is money — it’s also about the ideas they bring to the table.
For Cancer, it’s important to have control over their home and family, while Aries needs to feel like he’s validated in the business world. Libra wants to be that social butterfly going where she wants and when she wants, while Capricorn is stockpiling money away, just in case.
By exercising control in their physical lives in these ways, they feel more secure and successful.
Cardinal signs are experts and jump into new projects without needing a safety net. They just trust that they can fly, and if they don’t, they get themselves right back up and try again at something else.
Because of this, these signs tend to find great success in life; however, like with everything in the natural world, there is a balance due to their need to overly control their environment.
Unfortunately, the shadow side of Cardinal signs is that overly controlling nature in which they don’t allow others to be themselves, or feel the need to have everything their way.
While much of this can dissipate as they learn and progress through their life path, this is also why it’s important in terms of relationships.
Because of the Cardinal signs dominating nature, they are best suited with the Mutable signs — Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces — as these signs will tend to more readily go with the flow and are flexible.
What are the Fixed signs?
The Fixes signs are: Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, Scorpio
While Cardinal signs tend to control their external environment, Fixed signs are known for more control over their emotional or inner worlds.
For these signs, they don’t adapt to change very well, especially in their physical lives. But unlike the Cardinal signs who won’t take action to sway things one way or another, Fixed signs just dig their heels in or punish themselves.
These signs tend to focus more on their personal lives and those matters most to them in an effort to maintain stability. They thrive off of knowing what to expect in their lives, and become very rooted in attaching their self-worth and beliefs to what happens.
Because of this, these Fixed signs can become stuck in the past or unable to move on from things others (or they, themselves) have done.
Unfortunately, while Cardinal signs are concerned about their physical environment, Fixed signs very much want things to stay in order in their minds and belief systems. When we say that humans can be our own worst nightmare, nowhere truer is that than the mind of the Fixed signs.
For these signs, it’s truly their own mind that ends up holding them back, even if it’s in different ways: Leo is forgiving, Taurus is understanding, Aquarius is negativity, and Scorpio is worthlessness. However, as they learn to control this shadow side of themselves, they also tend to grow out of the habit of believing the worst about themselves and others.
While in time these qualities tend to be worked through, Taurus can have a really hard time engaging with others because she thinks she’s always right, which can come across as condescending to others.
Leo has a difficult time forgiving others, meaning he could sabotage a number of relationships until he realizes he has to put his own pride aside to find that happiness he seeks.
Aquarius has to get over the fear that the worst case scenario is inevitable, and instead learn to take a risk in thinking it’s possible to have everything go better than she could have planned.
Scorpio, though, is in a similar boat and, at times, can get lost in her own thoughts, especially the dark ones where she wonders if she will be alone forever or if she’s worthy of love.
For these signs, it’s important to not only have a flexible partner in their life, but also someone who will help them detach from their own demons and help them see that life exists outside of what they fear.
While these signs can make good romantic partners with each other, the biggest drawback is that when we get two stubborn people together, no one moves.
Because of this, the Mutable signs — Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces — are those best suited.
What are the Mutable signs?
The Mutable signs are: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces
At last, we hear about the signs who make the best partners for everyone! The number one asset of this modality is that they are flexible. This is an important quality to have, as it enables these signs to adapt to their external environments with ease and flow.
However, the one important quality of Mutable signs is that they need a solid foundation in their lives, too.
For these signs, it’s almost as if once they have their roots, they are able to then bend with whatever else happens around them. But for the Mutable signs, being grounded and stable on their own is something they often struggle with.
This is their shadow work — thinking they need to be in a partnership with someone in order to have those roots they require to be as flexible as they are inclined to be.
These signs are vulnerable to outside influences and energy, more than other signs, simply because of their adaptable nature. It’s almost as if they are more porous than other signs, letting them take in more of the world and people around them, even if it looks different.
Virgo is physical life, Gemini is thoughts of others, Sagittarius is distraction, and Pisces is wearing a mask.
To break it down even further, Virgos would have a harder time not being personally affected in a toxic work environment, while Gemini wouldn’t be able to work because she’s worried people are talking about her.
But Sagittarius is off not doing any work while looking up new prospects on LinkedIn, and Pisces is there smiling, looking like everything is fine, but is sneaking off to the bathroom to cry because she feels so overwhelmed.
Another shadow side of this modality is that they can blend into the environment around them — not consciously, but because they are so adaptable.
Sometimes, these are the signs that end up changing who they are because of where they are, or who they are around, not realizing until later that they aren’t actually being their true selves.
With time and moving through the lessons that life brings these signs, they often are able to realize that their flexibility is actually part of their roots, which enables them to stop being a chameleon.
While Mutable signs are great partners for both Fixed and Cardinal, they also tend to be good romantic partners for themselves as well.
This is because the Mutable signs are those who are so flexible, they can step up and lead if their partner wants to follow. However, ultimate success depends on the full birth chart.
Kate Rose is an artist, writer, passionate yogi, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. As a spiritual intuitive, she practices the religion of astrology and love. For more of her work, visit her website.