Magic of the Zodiac Modalities: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable
while the elemental nature of each zodiac sign is typically well-known even if you’re just dipping your toes into astrology, we often don’t hear as much about the modality of the signs! the modality of each sign only adds and speaks to the elemental expression of each zodiac sign and provides us greater information of how that elemental energy is expressed! their modality is also what distinguishes each of the elemental signs from one another. we don’t just have three air signs that all express the same energies, magic, and lessons. we have three air signs with three distinct modalities that reveal the range of natures that air energy can be expressed!
in interpreting your natal chart, looking into the modality of your placements will provide a great deal of insight into how your energy flows and the expression of elemental qualities of your chart. it can also provide insight into what ways of expressing energy that you may need to cultivate and find balance with! because, while your natal chart may indicate a balanced distribution of placement between the elements, this can be radically different if all of these placements are in cardinal signs versus mutable signs!
after all, the modalities represent a cycle. they represent the beginning, middle, and end to seasons—and this cycle expands outward to so many other aspects of our lives! all three are required to bring forth creation. we need conception, gestation, and deliverance for the birth of something, anything! so let’s discuss the magic of each of the modalities, the lessons they bring us, and how we can use this information to look at our own charts!
aries, cancer, libra, capricorn
it begins with the cardinal signs! the cardinal signs begin our seasons from the first signs of spring to settling into the chill of winter. during the spring, do you ever notice the first buds of the leaves to then have them seemingly appear overnight, filling out the trees and spreading a definitive announcement of “spring is here!”? this is the magic of the cardinal signs. they show us the beauty of bursting forth into the unknown and bring the ability to believe, create, and erupt from nothingness into something. it is turning the friction of flint and rock into the smallest spark that grows into a flame. it is starting with limits and only seeing the opportunity to build and create so much further—even beyond what we can conceive at the time. they are the big bang, synthesis, creation, and conception.
taurus, leo, scorpio, aquarius
the fixed signs carry out the seasons and bring them to their height. this modality brings us the lushness of spring, the intensity of summer, the peak of fall, and the depths of winter. this ability to show the full expression of any energy—whether its a season, an ideology, or characteristic—is the culmination of their magic. this magic exists in their ability to nurture, invest, carry forth, and tend to what needs tending to. they are the keepers of our ideals and the guardians of what we value. they help us continue forward as the journey threatens to end us. they are fruitful gardens, sanctuaries, deep quarries. they bring committed dedication and ask how we cannot just go further, but deeper through their respective elemental energies.
gemini, virgo, sagittarius, pisces
our final modality, mutable, presents the importance of flexibility and transience as we prepare to move from one season to the next. they teach us the art and wisdom that comes from impermanence and change. they bring the changing tide and inspire us to be playful, curious, and to release our clutches on the things we are clinging too tightly to. they are wind sweeping through a meadow, dancing wildfires, and the rise and fall of the tide. they remind us how to be expansive, endless, changeable, and always developing. they ask, what happens when you let go off all your preconceptions about your being? how can we reimagine ourselves just within our finite life? is it then we can feel infinite?
THe MODalitieS IN OUR LIVES & CHARTS
just like the elemental component of the zodiac signs, looking at the modality of our natal placements provides us wisdom to understanding how we express ourselves, how our energy flows, and provides insight into where we may need to cultivate balance.
to calculate the distribution of the modalities in your chart, we will use a 14 point system where you will tally up the distribution of modes in your chart.
start by creating a small chart with “cardinal, fixed, and mutable” as the header at the top
start by going through your natal placements INCLUDING ALL YOUR PLANETS, ASCENDANT, AND MIDHEAVEN, and tallY POINTS for each placement—granting 2 points to your sun, moon, and rising sign
once you move through your placements, add it all up and see how it shakes out!
p.s. if you use astro.com, it actually does this for you already! it’s that little 3x4 table below your natal chart and above your aspects where it shows you the distribution of elements in your chart against the different modalities.
HAVING 4-5 POINTS FOR ONE MODALITY IN YOUR CHART IS CONSIDERED TO BE AVERAGE, 6 POINTS OFFERS A STRONG INFLUENCE, AND HAVING OVER 7 POINTS IN ONE MODALITY INDICATES THAT THIS IS A PROMINENT ASPECT IN INTERPRETING THE ENERGIES IN YOUR CHART.
BASED ON THE DISTRIBUTION, IT MAY BE THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF PLACEMENTS IN ONE MODALITY AND FEW PLACEMENTS IN ANOTHER. THIS IS PART OF YOUR UNIQUE ENERGETIC SIGNATURE THAT WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NATURAL PROCLIVITIES AND SKILLS, AND ALSO THE AREAS THAT MAY NEED SOME ATTENTION.
BELOW YOU CAN READ ABOUT WHAT ATTRIBUTES ARE THEMATICALLY ASSOCIATED WHEN THERE’S AN EMPHASIS OR LACK OF PARTICULAR PLACEMENTS—PLUS AN AFFIRMATION IF YOU ARE TRYING TO CULTIVATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH MODE!
ACTIVE, AMBITIOUS, ENERGETIC, BUSY, DRIVING, INVOLVED, INITIATIVE, OPPORTUNISTIC
IF YOU HAVE OVER 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE CARDINAL MODE, THEN YOU ARE LIKELY ENERGETIC, AMBITIOUS, AND POSSESS THE ABILITY TO BRING INITIATIVE AND ENERGY TO A WHOLE ROOM, PROJECTS, AND PARTNERSHIPS. YOU WOULD RATHER BE WORKING ON SOMETHING THAn FEEL LIKE YOUR LIFE IS EMPTY AND OFTEN ALWAYS HAVING SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE WORKING ON. ON THE FLIP SIDE OF THIS, YOU MAY STRUGGLE TO FIND REST, SIT STILL, OR NOT BE DOING SOMETHING. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THESE INDIVIDUALS TO BE CONSCIOUS ABOUT BALANCING THEIR NEED FOR ACTIVITY AND PROFESSIONAL/VOCATIONAL GROWTH WITH THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THEIR LIFE SUCH AS LIMITING LATE NIGHTS AT THE OFFICE, WEEKENDS SPENT AWAY FROM HOME, OR EVENINGS WORKING AND TO LEARN HOW TO STRIKE A BALANCE. (IF YOU WANT TO TALK CARDINAL EMPHASIS, I HAVE 9 POINTS IN THE CARDINAL MODE!)
FOR THOSE WITH FEW CARDINAL PLACEMENTS, THERE MAY BE A SENSE OF “STUCKNESS” AROUND GETTING THINGS OFF THE GROUND OR INITIATING PROJECTS. IF YOU ARE TRYING TO DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS OR PROJECTS, IT MAY BE USEFUL TO PARTNER WITH OR HAVE SOMEONE TO HELP YOU START THINGS OFF—BECAUSE ITS LIKELY THAT YOU ARE FULLY CAPABLE OF COMPLETING OR FOLLOWING THROUGH WITH SAID INITIATIVES ONCE THERE IS SOME MOMENTUM. FIND A SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS YOU TO GET OVER THAT INITIAL INERTIA.
affirmation: I INITIATE
DETERMINED, WILLFUL, PURPOSEFUL, STEADFAST , DELIBERATE, STRONG-WILLED, PERSISTENT
IF YOU HAVE OVER 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE FIXED MODE, YOU ARE LIKELY INCREDIBLy FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU VALUE, YOUR GOALS, AND WHAT BRINGS YOU A SENSE OF SATISFACTION. YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT FOLLOWTHROUGH, BUT MAY BE SLOW TO START. WHILE YOUR STEADFASTNESS IS OFTEN ADMIRED, IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO FALL INTO THE TERRITORY OF OBSTINANCE OR STICKING WITH PEOPLE, SITUATIONS, OR IDEALS SIMPLY FOR THE SAKE OF NOT HAVING TO FACE CHANGE. INSTEAD, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CULTIVATE A HEALTHY ATTITUDE OR PROCESS FOR EVALUATING WHAT YOU ARE INVESTING YOUR TIME AND ENERGY IN AND MAKING SURE IT TRULY ALIGNS WITH YOUR DESIRES—NOT JUST WHAT YOU’VE BEEN SPENDING YOUR TIME DOING. CULTIVATING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AROUND DIFFERENCE, FEEDBACK, AND CHANGE WILL ALL BE HELPFUL SKILLS IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF FIXED PLACEMENTS!
IF YOU HAVE FEW FIXED PLACEMENTS, FOLLOWTHROUGH MAY BE A LITTLE TRICKY. IT COULD BE THAT YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT GETTING THINGS OFF THE GROUND BUT SEEING IT THROUGH CAN FEEL A BIT LABORIOUS SOMETIMES. YOU MAY ALSO STRUGGLE WITH CREATING STRUCTURE AND STABILITY IN YOUR LIFE DEPENDING ON YOUR PLACEMENTS. GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A HEALTHY SENSE OF DISCIPLINE ABOUT FINISHING WHAT YOU’VE STARTED WILL BE HELPFUL IN LIVING YOUR LIFE. IT IS ALSO CRUCIAL TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU AGREE TO HAVE ON YOUR PLATE AS THIS CAN TAKE YOUR ENERGY AWAY FROM COMPLETING THE TASKS AND INITIATIVES YOU’VE ALREADY STARTED. THIS MINDFULNESS ABOUT THESE COMMITMENTS WILL ALLOW YOU TO TEND TO THESE OTHER PROJECTS DEMANDING YOUR ATTENTION.
affirmation: I SUSTAIN
ADAPTABLE, VERSATILE, VARIABLE, PERSONAL, RESTLESS, INDECISIVE, OPEN
IF YOU HAVE 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE MUTABLE MODE, YOUR FOCUS IS LIKELY ON RELATIONSHIPS AND THRIVE ON DEVELOPMENT, VARIETY, AND CHANGE. YOU ARE LIKELY MORE INCLINED TO GO WITH THE FLOW AND READILY ADAPT TO CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES AND PEOPLE. WHILE THERE ARE MANY ADVANTAGES TO THIS MORE RELAXED RELATIONSHIP WITH LIFE, YOU MAY STRUGGLE WITH FEELING DIRECTIONLESS—INSTEAD PREFERRING FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR YOU OR TO JUST FOLLOW THEIR PATH. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU SPEND TIME SEPARATING YOUR FEELINGS FROM THE DESIRES AND FEELINGS OF OTHERS AND ASK YOURSELF, WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT? AND BECOMING MORE COMFORTABLE WITH ASKING THIS QUESTION OF YOURSELF. THROUGH BEING ABLE TO RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN NEEDS, DESIRES, AND AMBITIONS WILL ALLOW YOU TO BE IN BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS AS YOU WON’T BE AS INCLINED TO PROJECT YOUR NEEDS ONTO OTHERS AND INSTEAD ALLOW BOTH TO BE HEARD AND REALIZED.
IF YOU HAVE FEW MUTABLE PLACEMENTS, YOU LIKELY HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT. IF NOT ATTENDED TO MINDFULLY, YOU CAN FREQUENTLY BE UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE AND FORCE OTHER PEOPLE TO FIT YOUR VISION OR EXPECTATIONS. BEING FLEXIBLE TO CHANGE IS A SKILL THAT WILL NEED CULTIVATING BUT WILL HELP APPEASE WHAT IS LIKELY SOME LEVEL OF ANXIETY. LEARNING HOW TO ACTIVELY LISTEN, FIND COMPROMISE, AND HONOR THE NEEDS AND LIMITATIONS OF OTHERS WILL ALLOW YOU TO HARNESS YOUR DRIVE TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL RATHER THAN BEING CONSTANTLY STUCK IN FRUSTRATION OVER OTHER PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS BENDING TO YOUR WILL.
affirmation: I COMPLETE
WHEN I FIRST STARTED GOING THROUGH MY CHART, LOOKING AT NOT JUST THE ELEMENTS BUT THE MODE OF EACH OF MY PLACEMENTS WAS TRULY CRUCIAL IN HELPING ME ADDRESS SOME OF THE BEHAVIORAL PATHWAYS I WAS FEELING STUCK AROUND! I HAVE 9 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE CARDINAL MODE AND I’VE FREQUENTLY FELT FRUSTRATED ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE JUST NOT DOING WHAT I WANT THEM TO AND HAVE FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED IN A CYCLE OF BURNOUT AND RECOVERY. HAVING THIS LANGUAGE AROUND THESE BEHAVIORS AND ENERGETIC TENDENCIES—ALONG WITH LOOKING INTO MY CHART FURTHER—HAS REALLY HELPED ME BE ABLE TO SEE MY BLINDSPOTS AND BE MINDFUL ABOUT MY TENDENCIES SO I CAN TRULY USE MY ENERGY IN A HEALTHY, FLOWING WAY!