Our previous posts have been discussing elements of the astrological zodiac. Now I think it is necessary to discuss modalities, also known as quadruplicities, in order to gain a comprehensive view of the signs of the astrological wheel.
Quadruplicities are divided into three groups, each group comprising four signs (hence the root of the word "quad," meaning four). Each of these groups is associated with a period of each season of the year, and reflects the basic qualities of that quadruplicity. The three quadruplicities are Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable.
The Cardinal quadruplicity is associated with the beginning of each season. It represents the equinoxes and solstices. It is comprised of the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Aries begins the season of Spring, and begins on the Spring equinox, when there is equal day and night (March 21st). Cancer begins the season of Summer and corresponds to the Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year (June 22nd). Libra begins the season of Autumn and corresponds to the Autumn equinox (September 23rd), when day and night are again equal in length. Finally, Capricorn begins the season of Winter and corresponds to the Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year (December 22nd). Cardinal signs are the initiators and leaders of the zodiac. They are associated with impatience, forcefulness, power, and initiative.
The Fixed quadruplicity is associated with the middle of each season, and a deepening of all the qualities of that particular season. These signs are located in the midst of a season, neither initiating it nor dispersing it into the next. They are the Fixed signs, and are associated with maintaining and stabilizing. The Fixed quadruplicity is associated with Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. Taurus represents the full power of Spring, and begins on April 20th. Leo likewise represents the full power of Summer, and begins on July 23rd. Scorpio is associated with the full glory of Autumn, and begins on October 23rd, while Aquarius corresponds with the fullness of Winter, beginning on January 20th. These signs are associated with stubborness, persistence, and pride. Those of this quadruplicity are the stable, maintaining signs of the zodiac most resistant to change.
The Mutable quadruplicity is the last of the modalities, and is associated with the ending of each season. It dissipates the energy of the season into which it is located and prepares us for the coming of a new season. Those of this modality are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. Gemini is associated with the ending of Spring and the ushering in of Summer, while Virgo is likewise associated with the ending of Summer and the beginnings of Autumn. Sagittarius brings Autumn to an end and begins preparing us for Winter, while Pisces establishes the ending of Winter and the beginning of the seasonal cycle to a beginning once more with Spring. Those of this quadruplicity are associated with adaptability, friendliness, and nervousness. They are the signs most adaptable to change and a dispersion of the old and a beginning of the new. With their enormous adaptation to changing circumstances, they are able to fulfill appointed roles and tasks very well, but often have a problem taking charge due to their indecisiveness.
Quadruplicities break down each of the elements to differentiate them from their cousins. For example, the element of Fire contains one of each of the modalities: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. This is likewise for each of the other elements. Below is a list of each sign of the zodiac, along with its quadruplicity and corresponding element. This list is in order from the first sign of the zodiac to the last sign.
Aries - Cardinal, Fire
Taurus - Fixed, Earth
Gemini - Mutable, Air
Cancer, - Cardinal, Water
Leo - Fixed, Fire
Virgo - Mutable, Earth
Libra - Cardinal, Air
Scorpio - Fixed, Water
Sagittarius - Mutable, Fire
Capricorn - Cardinal, Earth
Aquarius - Fixed, Air
Pisces - Mutable, Water
There is a pattern for the quadruplicities just as there is for each of the elements. As we saw, the elements are Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. The quadruplicites are Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. This is a helpful tool in understanding each of the signs of the zodiac.
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