The Meaning of the Modes within a Birth Chart: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

The Meaning of the Modes within a Birth Chart: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

- by

You may have noticed when creating your astrology natal chart that you may see a special feature such as "The Cardinal mode is dominant among the inner planets" or "The three modes are evenly distributed among the inner planets".

What does this mean?

The twelve signs of the zodiac has interesting overlapping themes in astrology. Each of the signs are characterized by one of the four elements, and you can learn about the meaning of the elements in the birth chart here.

The signs are also split up into three "modes" or "qualities" which are a little more abstract and less intuitive. They roughly break down to an "initiating, active" quality called Cardinal, a "stable, durable" quality called Fixed, and a varying, changeable quality called Mutable.

Each of the signs are in some ways affected by the nature of these qualities, and when mixed with their element, the core symbolism and description of the signs becomes more clear.

What is the symbolism of the modes within astrology?

In astrology, each of the modes is defined through the human personality in attributes that resonate with the overarching concept.

Here is a description of the modes:

Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn
  • initiating
  • active
  • restless
  • energetic
  • opportunistic
  • driven
  • ambitious
  • forward
  • intrepid
Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius
  • determined
  • purposeful
  • persistent
  • stubborn
  • inflexible
  • powerful
  • strong-willed
  • certain
Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces
  • adaptable
  • changeable
  • agreeable
  • versatile
  • agile
  • indecisive
  • wandering
  • go-with-the-flow

What does it mean if a chart is lacking in a mode?

If a chart is lacking in a mode, it is often thought that the characteristics associated with the mode are not emphasized in the chart.

These are the potential challenges of weak or missing modes in a chart:

Missing Cardinal
  • lack of initiative
  • lack of leadership qualities
  • timidness
Missing Fixed
  • inconsistency
  • unreliability
  • capriciousness
Missing Mutable
  • rigid
  • unadaptable
  • inflexible

The Modes of each sign in Astrology

Here are how the signs in the zodiac each express their individual mode (also known as quality):


Aries represents the spark, small fiery particle or young flame being born out of nothing. It represents the birth of a new fire. Cancer is symbolized by moving water in a stream, river or waterfall. The energy is of water moving, initiating a new path through the land. Libra is represented by a fresh, young movement of air such as the breeze or wind. Capricorn is reflection in the principle of contraction and crystallization which hardens matter into rock and gemstones. It is additionally often associated with mountains and rock faces.


Taurus is symbolized by the wealth stored in the land and rich potential of fresh soil or earth. This is the age old symbol of fertility and abundance. It is often symbolized as a garden or pasture, especially the type a bull rests on. Leo represents a mature, well fueled fire. It is reflected by the power of a full flame. Scorpio is represented by the ice, frozen and unmoving. Additionally, its association with 'depth' can be akin to ground water, or pure and refreshing well water. Aquarius is reflected by still air, such as that which predominates in space.


Gemini is symbolized by quickly moving air, with a volatile, spontaneous feel. It can also be represented by rapidly morphing clouds. Virgo is reflected by a living forest, morphing and changing. It is intricate in nature, private and secluded. Sagittarius is symbolized by the twinkling embers of a fire, sparkling quietly on their own. It also be represented by glowing lava. Pisces is symbolized by the ocean, reflected by its vast, softly morphing, yet powerful nature.

Create Your Astrology Birth Chart

Create your free, personalized, and highly customizable birth chart (natal chart) by filling in the form below. Using our tools you can hide/show planets and asteroids, choose a house system, customize orbs, show declinations, sidereal charts and more...

Fill in your details

My date of birth is:
/ /
illustration of two women shoulder-to-shoulder relaxing underneath a warm sun