In a similar way to how the sun signs are divided up into elements, Sun Signs are also divided into three quality sectors comprising four signs each. The “qualities” are also called, “modalities” or “modes”.

The modes indicate how people respond to stimuli, and especially how they act under tension. They show how the signs express their element, meaning the mode, or pattern of behaviour they use to express the elemental needs. There are three modes are as follows:

  1. Cardinal Signs – Aries – Cancer – Libra – Capricorn
  2. Fixed Signs – Taurus – Leo – Scorpio – Aquarius
  3. Mutable Signs – Gemini – Virgo – Sagittarius – Pisces

Like the elements mentioned earlier, they rule different values and have characteristics of their own. You might also hear them referred to as “quadruplicities” because there are four signs per group.

Also, you might also hear them referred to as “triplicities” because there are 3 sequences in every process.  Also, each element contains 3 signs per group.  Each sign represents one of the triplicities.

For each mode, there is one of each element. For each element, there is one of each quality.

The sequence of cardinal (create, begin), fixed (change or maintain) and mutable (change to something else, end, destroy) is part of all the things we experience in the world four times a year in the form of seasons. There is a Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable Sign in every season. These are called Triplicities.

The triplicities of seasonal astrological elements in ancient astrology were the following:

  • Spring – Aries – Taurus – Gemini
  • Summer – Cancer – Leo – Virgo
  • Autumn – Libra – Scorpio – Sagittarius
  • Winter – Capricorn – Aquarius – Pisces

Correlating the different modes to the different seasons is easy. And in turn, this makes them easy to remember when they begin and how they operate.

Astrology Quadruplicities

Modes Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Cardinal Aries Cancer Libra Capricorn
Fixed Taurus Leo Scorpio Aquarius
Mutable Gemini Virgo Sagittarius Pisces
The following table shows the relationship between cardinal, fixed and mutable and other cycles of action:

Astrology Triplicities

Cardinal Signs Fixed Signs Mutable Signs
Start Change Stop
Create Maintain Destroy
Begin Continue End
Birth Growth Death

Cardinal Signs

These are Aries (fire), Cancer (water), Libra (air) and Capricorn (earth).  So you see how each of the four elements have one that’s cardinal.  The Cardinal signs are like the oldest in the family, and full of the self-initiatory spirit. They assert their particular style of leadership through their element.

Cardinal Fire (Aries) is a catalyst, a firebrand that inspires others by committing being totally committed to his/her vision.

Cardinal Water (Cancer) leads by the heart and casts a palpable emotional force that pushes into new territory but does it sideways like the crab.

Cardinal Air (Libra) initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people.

Cardinal Earth (Capricorn) has a formidable, grounded presence, and natural authority from being masters of the physical plane.

Fixed Signs

They are Leo (fire), Scorpio (water), Aquarius (air) and Taurus (earth).

Since fixed signs come along as the season is underway, they represent going deeper, and pursuing the full realization of what’s already begun. They can initiate, but their real gifts emerge when they’re able to sink deeply into an ongoing project.

Each of the fixed signs creates stability through the vehicle of their element.

For Fixed fire (Leo)this can mean a career of self-expression, and ongoing respect in their chosen fields.

For fixed water (Scorpio), permanence is found through achievement, and going deep into the infinite mysteries of the imagination, dreams, primal sexuality.

As fixed air, Aquarius sets on a continuum that reaches into the future, and can doggedly push for reform, or spend a lifetime on their own inventions.

For fixed earth, Taurus digs into the ground, builds with real elements to construct a stable life

Mutable Signs

They are Gemini (air), Virgo (earth), Sagittarius (fire) and Pisces (water).

Each of the mutable signs mutates itself with the tools of its particular element. Mutable

Mutable fire (Sagittarius) evolves through learning, travel, seeking knowledge — and using intuition to glean the truth from all this experience.

Mutable water (Pisces) dwells in the collective depths and contains all the signs as the last one. Mutable

Mutable air(Gemini) rides the circuits of ideas, taking in and disseminating what it collects.

Mutable earth (Virgo) changes through purification of the body and by being a force of healing for others.