Each zodiac sign also has a quality known as a modality. I generally think of the modalities as “seasonal qualities”.
There are three different modalities, depending on where the sign falls in its season on the wheel of the year.
Since we haven’t discussed where the zodiac signs are in terms of months, I’ll give you a second to look at this chart. For now, you don’t need to worry about the exact dates, just know that each zodiac sign generally starts around the 20th of each month (so Aries is around March 20th to April 20th, etc.).
Let’s discuss what the three modalities are, and how they apply to the signs.
If the sign comes at the very beginning of the season, it will be a cardinal sign. Cardinal signs rule the change of the seasons. Cardinal signs are active, and initiate change, like Aries. They are bursting with energy and potential. This energy can be difficult to direct, but it is powerful enough to shift us from one season to another. They are like the spark that begins their particular season.
The cardinal signs are
Aries – Spring
Cancer – Summer
Libra – Fall
Capricorn – Winter
They are called the cardinal signs because they are associated with the four cardinal directions. We’ll discuss this at a later time.
Next up are the fixed signs. These signs fall in the middle of their season. They bring the full force and embodiment of their season: Leo (in summer) is a perfect example of this. They are more stable and set than the cardinal signs. The fixed signs are:
Leo – Summer
Scorpio – Fall
Aquarius – Winter
Taurus – Spring
If you think on it you will see that this is not arbitrary, and that each sign actually does fit its seasonal vibe. Leo obviously is the height of summer, while the scorpion (Scorpio) is an excellent embodiment of fall which is beautiful yet full of death. Taurus is the ox plowing the field and bringing forth spring. Each layer of meaning is going to stack as we move forward, they all work together to paint an accurate picture of the true nature of each sign.
The last set of signs are the mutable signs. These signs rule the end of the season. They embody bringing the work of that season to a close while also looking forward into the next season. Virgo is a great example of the mutable modality. It is the harvest: collecting the work of summer and preparing for fall. These signs are adaptable, intuitive, and understanding. In some sense they lack the stability of the fixed signs but are more subtle. The mutable signs are:
Gemini – Spring
Virgo – Summer
Sagittarius – Fall
Pisces – Winter
So, to review, we have:
Cardinal signs – at the start of the season
Fixed signs – at the height of the season
Mutable signs – at the end of the season.
This may seem slightly arbitrary and needlessly complex at the moment, but all of this will dovetail with the elemental attributions of the zodiac, which is our next topic. For now, just go with it. This chart is a visualization of what you need to know at this point about the modalities, we’ll expand on it later. Obviously C is cardinal, F is fixed, M is mutable: