Operating Styles Of The Astrological Modalities

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All of the signs of the Zodiac can be divided into Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable signs. AKA the Modalities. It refers to a mode of operating and is surprisingly apt.

How Cardinal Signs Operate And What Sabotages Them

Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are the Cardinal signs, but you can call them “Boss.”  Their core competency is taking charge. If there is an initiative, they’ll seize it. They are utterly relaxed in management positions. Leadership is less stressful for them than following, no matter what the circumstances.

Their weak spot is control-tripping. Automatically assuming authority, they alienate people by telling them how to run their everything. Cardinal signs see everything and everyone as an issue to be managed, controlled or confronted.

How Fixed Signs Operate And What Sabotages Them

Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are the Fixed signs. Their word is their oath. Once set upon something; they will not budge. Such dependability and self-discipline rightly earn them success in anything demanding tenacity. Whether they’re training for a marathon, patiently hunting down the perp of a crime or making a movie, they will not stop. They endure.

But this attribute flipped can see them sticking to people and projects when they should have abandoned ship and swum on. It becomes stubbornness and rigidity that they rebrand as principles.

How Mutable Signs Operate And What Sabotages Them

The Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. They’re beyond just change-adept. They sense shifts in the Zeitgeist and incoming trends the way birds feel wind or storms. Mutable people are clearing their desk or throwing money at something nobody’s ever heard of while others wait for some memo or announcement.

However, their temperament also means that they find it hard to commit to anything. They set a big goal or standard at dawn, and adjust it by evening. Each policy shift is utterly logical, at the time. And because impulse is statistically their most successful ‘method,’ they can deploy it where a more robust strategy is needed. That causes loss of their most valued asset; time.

To make it more involved, you could be a Sun Sign with one mode (say, a Cardinal Aries) but your actual birth chart is predominantly – say – Mutable. On your Astral DNA chart, you can get your Modalities score.

Modalities in Astrology

Knowing other people’s dominant modality is super-handy. Why? Because if you try to impose Mutable values on a Cardinal sign or any other permutation of this, it backfires.


Image: Chris Maggio

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Probably Australia’s most famous Mutable Grand Cross, Bob Hawke, is gone.
Mutable Grand Cross by Sign and in Cadent houses with a 12H Stellium (Sagg planets / Scorp ruled). Sagg Sun, Asc, Mercury, Venus & Mars.

A magnificent example of Mutable energy. A real Mr Fixit.


can I just send a memo to the Fixed signs:

Just because you Don’t Like something, doesn’t make it Wrong.


signed, pisces completely over fixed signs (colleague, housemate, friends, family members) who can’t deal with change and openness to things which have not passed their 100-point pre-approval checklist.


probably a bit unfair in the cold light of day
saturn in my 7th house? forcing me to define myself better?
progressed sun in toro, and progressed moon/asc in Leo, showing me what fixity is all about?

would a fixed sign be having this conversation with themself?

Wish Upon a Star

Oh don’t beat yourself up. I agree with your first comment.

I usually see the fixed signs coming and if I am grounded enough I just give them a wide berth or just smile and nod if cornered.

A bit hard if they are in your circle. The really full on Fixed signs can suck the oxygen out of a room. Tres boring.

I think a sense of humour is the balm in these situations. But I would say that as I am a mutable Gemini with a Taurus moon.


4 cardinal 3 fixed and umpteen mutable ! I’m a bossy fly by night


Mostly Cardinal, then Fixed. I guess this explains why my Myers-Briggs is ENTJ and why my current job as an assistant gives me hives anytime I walk in the building.


Very much fixed, but I have a Cancer rising plus Saturn in Aries that gives me my “go go go” personality. I am really so impatient. I need what I need now and I will worry about the consequences later.


Just checked mine and I am Cardinal first! It surprised me because my two very vocal older sisters turned out to be both primarily Fixed. I don’t think they got the newsflash the youngest, shortest sister was also the Cardinal one. But my Cardinal-ity is fairly balanced with my Mutable-ness. (As I am Leo Sun, Scorpio Moon I may not be very fixed but I am pretty fixed too). Lucky my partner is insanely high in Mutability. Though he is a Cancer Moon, and I feel like that and his Cap NN, play the larger role in his life in… Read more »


I’ve always thought you were more Mutable.


Why, thank you Jokerman! I take it as a compliment. My chart ruler is Gem ie mutable axis. I think that matters a lot in how I deal with change (or not).


I learn from Mutables seeing that I have a paucity of it myself.


I’m 42% fire, 8% earth, 25% air, 25% water. And 42% cardinal, 25% fixed, 33% mutable. I consider myself primarily water (Sun, Moon, Saturn which is my ruler in Pisces and Scorpio), so it’s funny I actually have so much fire, but it’s only with two personal planets (Venus and Mars in Aries), the rest (Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune all in Sag) are outer planets. Likewise I think of myself as a Mutable (Pisces sun) but I’m Cap-rising and have a cardinal midheaven with a lot of planets so I know I’m actually quite set on doing things my own way… Read more »


Hmmm.. I have an Astral DNA and can’t find the modalities/percentages section. Help?


It’s under the astrology wheel

Lux Interior Is My Co-Pilot

I can’t find mine either. Well, there is a table, but no percentages.


Yep, just emailed it to you now


Check in between the House Positions chart and the introduction.


I’m 33.3% Cardinal, 33.3% Fixed, and 33.3% Mutable. And I’m a Sun Libra – I’m balanced! 😉


You’re a unicorn!


You are wrong. Unicorns are quite common.


As in PM is rare.


I’m also 33.3% water, 33.3% earth, 25% air, and 8.3% fire. So yeah, unicorn!


Love that!

Saturn in Pisces

I’m 50 percent fixed. Before Astral DNA I described myself as “all fixed/cardinal and NO mutable.” Cardinal Moon/ASC and Fixed Sun. My only mutable placements are Jupiter in Sag and Saturn in Pisces, though Astral DNA gives me 20 percent mutable because it tallies Chiron in Virgo too. My friends who know anything about astrology think of my as “the least mutable” (and I tend to only make friends with super-mutable people). But they aren’t think about my dad, whose Astral DNA is 80 percent fixed! I’ve always thought of power and control games as a Fixed thing. Universally in… Read more »

Scorpio Twin

50% mutable (sun/moon/mercury/jupiter in gemini, neptune in sag, virgo midheaven)
41.6% fixed (mars + venus in taurus, uranus + ascendant in scorpio)
8.3% cardinal? (Pluto)
Always thought I was zero cardinal!? Despite my scorpio rising I’ve always felt pretty passive and flimsy. Is it due to no fire in my chart (only ol’ saturn in leo) or maybe 1st house neptune is the culprit?


My erstwhile Pisces Stellium / Neptune cj Scorpio Asc was “passive and flimsy”.


66% mutable, 16% cardinal and 16% fixed here and I’d say that is a v accurate reflection of my modus operandi. Generally pretty happy with mutable strategies but I’m very grateful for my fixed Taurus Venus – really a go-to for me if my usual strategies aren’t working. I think of it as “she conquers who endures.” Don’t see as much of my cardinal side at first glance – will think about it a bit. I often wonder what it must be like to have more cardinality and fixedness ..


58% mutable/50% earth with 0% air. Do I move mountains for the highest good? Or just piles of dirt for no reason?


Oh, I know, I’m a naked mole rat.


I’m 50% fixed, with an angular t-square.
41.6% mutable, including my closest planetary aspect and an 8th house stellium.
My chart ruler Pluto rounds it all out to give me 8.3% cardinal.

I’m stubborn yet unpredictable with an underlying urge to light things on fire.


Most of my 5 T Squares are in Fixed Signs, except Sun in Cancer and Virgoan Mars cj Pluto and a mix of Angular and Succedent houses. Nine of my planets in T Squares.

Fixed dominant, esp Scorp, Cardinal a strong 2nd and Mutable a poor 3rd


Maybe it’s a new feature as I can’t see the percentages on mine, only the grid with symbols?? No matter, I can work it out – 57.1% mutable, 35.7% fixed, 7.2% cardinal. My friends call me a commitophobe but it’s really that the optimal decision changes by the nanosecond


Sure thing Mystic, just sent it


Fire: Sun Mercury Venus Saturn Neptune – 35.7%
Earth: Moon Mars Jupiter Chiron Asc – 35.7%
Air: Pluto MC – 14.3%
Water: Uranus True Node – 14.3%

Very little air or water and I feel it

I am a Leo sun and Virgo moon so probably not as stubborn as I could be


I don’t feel as intellectual as I understand air signs are and can come off as unemotional

Wish Upon a Star

OMG. Thanks Mystic for drawing my attention to this. I never noticed it before.

And it is a great help.

Calli G

I’m a cardinal sun (Libra) with a stellarium in a mutable sign (Virgo), my rising in a mutable sign (Gemini), and my moon in a fixed sign (Taurus). I’m not particularly inclined to management (although micro managers give me the yips). I work pretty well independently, and I’m fairly flexible until someone hits one of my hard stops, at which point I’m really, really not. I don’t know that you’d call this operating firmly in any one modality.


I know I’m fixed but i should acknowledge these synchronicities


Love this astro-school bit of post. I have always been pretty ignorant at the whole Cardinal / Fixed / Mutable thing. Though being Gemini with Virgo rising (and 58% mutable in my BC) I know first hand what that entitles to. Happy to know that I am almost 40% Cardinal too (thanks to you awesome Astral DNA report), which helped me shed some new light on other characteristics of mine.

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