What it means if your astrology sign is cardinal, fixed, or mutable

Kristin Magaldi

If you’ve fallen down the astrology rabbit hole, you likely already know there’s a lot more to reading your horoscope than just understanding your zodiac sign. While your zodiac sign (or sun sign, as it’s also called), is known in astrology as the main identifier of your personality, preferences, and behaviors, there are plenty of things that impact how it presents itself. For instance, your birth chart, or the position of the stars and the planets in the sky the moment you were born, has an effect on how you relate to the traits of your zodiac sign.

From there, each zodiac sign is broken down into two groups that encompass signs with similar traits: its element and its quality. Elements are split into four categories—earth, fire, water, and air—which divides zodiac signs by natural traits they have in common. Qualities, also known as modalities, break the zodiac signs down into three groups—cardinal, fixed, and mutable—based on commonalities of how they deal with their environment. And knowing your zodiac sign’s quality can help you better understand how you best interact with others (romantically and otherwise), what your main goals are in life, and how you’re likely to deal with a variety of circumstances, all based on your sign.

To understand qualities better, HelloGiggles talked with astrologer Lisa Stardust to find out what the different groups mean and why you should keep them in mind.

Cardinal Signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn

According to Stardust, cardinal signs are the “initiators” of the zodiac. They are known for being self-starters and consistently generating forward momentum in their lives. They also like to have control over their circumstances, but the areas they seek to control vary; Cancer likes to be in charge of emotions, Aries craves leadership, Libra wants balance in relationships, and Capricorn seeks control over the material world.

The cardinal signs start off each new season. “The word ‘cardinal’ originates from the Latin word for ‘hinge,’ since they each mark the turning point, change, and beginning of the four seasons,” Stardust says. Aries season marks the beginning of spring, Cancer season is at the beginning of the summer, Libra season marks the start of fall, and Capricorn season welcomes in winter.

Cardinal signs are driven, though many of their goals can be self-oriented. Aries, for example, is ruled by Mars and has an innate impulse to change and shape circumstances to their liking. Similarly, a Capricorn is known for being a perpetual workaholic who prioritizes career success over many other areas of life.

Because cardinal signs like to take charge, they usually aren’t compatible romantically with other signs within their quality. The same goes for work and friendship dynamics—two cardinal signs can definitely butt heads. Most cardinal signs will find more harmony when interacting with mutable or fixed signs, like those below.

Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

Fixed signs are pretty self explanatory; they’re immovable, for better or for worse. “Fixed signs fall in the middle of the seasons,” Stardust says. “They are the doers of the zodiac, carrying out the work which the cardinal signs started.”

They are also known as “stabilizers,” Stardust notes, because they have a grounding and constant energy along with firmly held beliefs. As a result, they can be loyal to friends and loved ones but also stubborn and inflexible. Taurus, for example, is known for being completely devoted to those they love and the causes they attach themselves to. While they’re unlikely to change their minds about things, a Taurus will try to make any relationship work. Similarly, a Scorpio is also strong-willed and is not quick to trust others. Once a Scorpio lets someone in, though, they’re friends for life.

Fixed signs can be compatible with other signs of their quality, as long as they’re both on the same page about their beliefs. Fixed signs are most likely to not get along with mutable signs because fixed signs are not fans of change.

Mutable Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces

Unlike their fixed counterparts, mutable signs are easy-breezy types who let their environments dictate their experiences. They often embrace change and will seek it out when situations become stagnant.

“Mutable signs come at the end of the four seasons,” Stardust says. “They often have a sense of urgency about them, as they know change is coming. They make sure all of  the tasks inspired by the cardinal signs and carried out by the fixed signs are completed before the season ends.”

Mutable signs also tend to be philosophical thinkers. They enjoy intellectual conversations about theoretical concepts and they are often non-judgmental of people with different opinions. However, they can also be a bit indecisive because they see things from multiple perspectives.

Mutable signs are guided by either Mercury or Jupiter, which gives these signs a predilection toward higher education and travel. Because they’re so chill, they tend to get along with most other signs. When it comes to relationships, though, fixed signs might have difficulties with mutable signs’ need for movement. Cardinal signs, on the other hand, may take advantage of mutable signs’ go-with-the-flow nature, so being mindful of these potential pitfalls can help build stronger connections. If cardinal or fixed signs are willing to bend a bit, they can learn a lot from mutable signs.

Learning all there is to know about your zodiac sign, which category it falls into, and how that impacts your interactions with others can help you better reflect on your own experiences and behaviors. If you know you’re a stubborn Taurus, for example, maybe it’s time to hang around some more mutable signs.