The E-Mail Astrologer, copyright Sherrie Nist, 2012
As Above, So Below
The Structure of a Chart: Modes
by Sherrie Nist
          Cardinal, fixed, or mutable: these qualities are the modes, or quadiplicities,
and they describe HOW you operate.  Each of these modes apply to four of the
signs.  Your predominent mode will most likely be  the one that applies to your Sun
sign, but not necessarily.  If your Sun happens to be the only heavenly body in that
particular mode, then whichever mode DOES dominate  your natal chart probably
more accurately describes your personal ‘modus operandi’.
Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are  the cardinal signs.  Cardinal people are the
leaders of the zodiac.  The entrance of the Sun into  these four signs begins a new
season.  The cardinal signs are outgoing and initiate new activities.  They are
enterprising and have the ability to motivate people. When cardinal energy is
misused it can be self-seeking, dominating, strong willed, and opportunistic.  They’
re all bossy (just ask my friends).
      Each of the cardinal signs manifests these qualities in its’ own way.  Aries is
cardinal fire, always on the move, blazing new trails, and beginning new projects
(although not necessarily finishing anything).  It’s the first sign of the zodiac,
corresponding to the spring equinox, and Aries takes that zodiacal placement
seriously.  They think they always have to be first. Aries energy does NOT wait in
line, and it plays to win.  To understand Aries, just get on the freeway.  Those
annoying drivers who just can’t stand it if you start to get ahead of them and have
to pass and cut in front of everybody are a perfect example of the Aries fire quality.
Aries fire is primarily directed toward self-expression.  Their enthusiam for life
inspires others to  view  them as leaders.  Their fatal flaw as a leader is that
everything is always about THEM.
      Cancer (cardinal water) has way more staying power than Aries.  Cancer is
persistant, and will wear you down if it takes forever (think of how long water takes
to erode rock, and you will understand the tenacity of Cancer energy).  Their
cardinal nature comes out when they have strong emotions about something. Their
willingness to fight to the death about whatever it is they care deeply about makes
them a leader who is in it for the long haul.  On the down side, they don’t know
when to give up, and they can’t stand to let go.
      Libra is cardinal air.  Much of their cardinal energy is expended in the realm of
social interaction; they are the ‘social leaders.’  They are self-motivated and
relationship oriented.  Libra’s leadership flaw is that they care too much what other
people think, and they try to please everybody. In their zeal to analyze situations
from every possible point of view  their ability to make a decision gets lost.
Capricorn, cardinal earth, is a real mover and shaker, especially in the business
world.  They are motivated by material gain, and to this end, they use their cardinal
energy to propel them to the top.  Capricorn owns the company.  Capricorn is not
impulsive like Aries.  Their fire is carefully controlled.  Every move is meticulously
planned out.  As a leader, they are strict and controlling.  Anyone  under Capricorn’
s authority had better play by the rules.
      Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, and Sagittarius) are the ones who maintain the status
quo at all costs.  They are steadfast, reliable, determined, and hold their ground in
all circumstances.  They can be a real pain in the ass, especially to cardinal people
(mutable people don’t care, but we’ll get to that) who are trying to get something
done.  When a big land developer (probably a Capricorn) buys up all the property in
a certain area for the purpose of building a mall or some other equally huge
project, and ONE person refuses to sell, forcing the project to be built AROUND
them, THAT is fixity at its’ finest.  Positively, fixity is strength and persistance;
negatively, rigidity, inflexibility, and stubbornness.
      Taurus (fixed earth) is determined to hold on to all material possessions.  
Taurus likes to collect items like valuable works of art.  They are most stubborn
about practical matters.  They are extremely patient, which is a good quality most of
the time, but if they consider a relationship a possession that they don’t want to let
go of, those two qualities can combine to produce a pretty good stalker.
      Fixed fire (Leo) is most stubborn about certain ways of doing things.  They are
also determined to remain the center of attention. This is usually not difficult,
because they ARE very charismatic. The sign of Leo is ruled by the Sun; think of
sun-worshipers at the beach to get an idea of Leo’s magnetic powers. Leo never
tires of self-promotion.I used to sell Sun sign t-shirts at psychic fairs. I always made
at least TWICE as many Leos as other signs, and I ALWAYS sold out of Leo shirts
first. Leos were seemingly unable to resist something that depicted THEM.
The third fixed sign is Scorpio.  If you think the other fixed signs are difficult to deal
with, just try locking horns with a Scorpio.  Scorpio is determined to hold on to their
emotions (fixed water) and if you unfortunately manage to really piss off a Scorpio,
they will NEVER forget it.  Scorpio can carry a grudge through eternity and beyond.  
Ten lifetimes from now, Scorpio will STILL be mad at you.  Not that they SHOW it,
especially in public; Scorpio is a master at controlling outward displays of emotion.  
They are also proficient at controlling everyone around them, and they do so at
every opportunity.  Scorpio is determined to be in control, period.  They ARE
capable of change; after all, Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation.  
As long as it is their idea.
      Aquarius (fixed air) is very different from the other fixed signs.  Air is the
element that least lends itself to fixity, so the fixed nature is manifested in a
different way, which is fitting for Aquarius, the sign of originality, innovation, and
invention.  Air functions on a mental level; Aquarius stubbornly holds on to its’
ideals and goals. Aquarius is the humanitarian of the zodiac.  They are also great
communicators.  Aquarius has the ability to remain emotionally detached, and to
see the big picture.  They know that they are part of something much larger than
themselves, and they are willing to work tirelessly toward
idealistic/social/humanitarian goals.
      Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are the mutable signs.  As cardinal signs
are the beginnings of new seasons, mutable signs are the end of the old season,
as it begins to change and prepare for the season to come..  Mutables are
adaptable, changeable, flexible, and versatile.  Carrying the qualities of adaptability
and changeability too far can cause a person to lose sight of their purpose.
Mutable energy can be scattered and disoriented.
Gemini, because it is mutable air, changes its’ mind about as often as most people
change their underwear.  Every new idea that comes along and intrigues them
distracts them from the one before.  Gemini can be fickle when it comes to
people/relationships, too.  Gemini jumps from one thing (or person) to another
because they are easily bored.
      Versatile Virgo, being of the earth element, is the most practical member of the
mutable quadruplicity.  Virgo is service oriented and seeks to find where they can
be of the most benefit to others.  What’s behind this drive to serve?  Guilt, some of
it on a conscious level, but much of it unconscious. Virgo does guilt better than any
other sign.  They feel guilty about everything, and constantly strive to make up for
their transgressions, whether real or  imagined, present life or karmic.  
Sagittarius is mutable fire; out to experience everything life has to offer.  Sag is the
philosopher, trying out many belief systems in the search for truth.  They are the
travelers, whether in actuality or in their soul. They are fascinated by foreign
cultures, and believe they have something to learn from each and every
experience.  Sagittarius’ biggest problem is the tendency toward overdoing,
burning out, and excessiveness.
      Pisces, mutable water, is the hardest to pin down. Water takes the form of the
of container that it is in, and Pisces is un contained. Pisces can be anything it
wants, and is the most likely to lose track of who it really is.  Anything, positive or
negative, that can be considered a form of escapism is in the realm of Pisces.  
Fantasy, acting, drug and/or alcohol addiction, deception, and denial are all Piscean
modes of operation. They are psychic sponges, and because they have the ability
to identify with just about everything, they are compassionate and sensitive.  
Pisces also has a problem setting their own and recognizing other peoples’
      The quadruplicities apply to more than just your Sun sign.  Every planet is
somewhere in your chart, and will operate according to the mode of the sign it is
in.  This is why your  ‘signature mode’ can be cardinal or whatever), yet you will still
identify with the other modes in certain areas of your life.