Cardinal Fire What? This Is What Elements and Qualities Mean in Astrology

The more you start to dig into this whole astrology thing, the more you realize just what a complex beast it really is. Which makes it oh-so-fascinating, but also a little intimidating at times.

But we’re here to take the guess work out of all of that stuff for you.

Beyond sun signs, moon signs, and rising signs, you’ll often hear people use qualifiers for those signs that can make them sound more complicated. Two such qualifiers are the elements — earth, air, fire, and water — and the qualities — cardinal, fixed, and mutable — that each sign falls under.

But rather than make this stuff even more complicated, you can actually use these designations as a cheat sheet to understanding the signs in a more complete way. It’s also a great way to help you understand the compatibility of certain signs, which, let’s be honest, is one of the most fun parts of astrology.

So let’s take a look.


All astrological signs can be categorized by their element, and fall under either earth, air, fire, or water.

Earth signs (TaurusVirgo, and Capricorn) are known to be grounded and practical. They’re warm, dependable, and security conscious.

Air signs (GeminiLibra, and Aquarius) are known for their intellect and curiosity. They never stop thinking, and will bounce from one idea to the next.

Water signs (CancerScorpio, and Pisces) are known for their deep emotions. They’re soulful, empathic, and melancholy at times.

And fire signs (AriesLeo, and Sagittarius) are known for their passion and impulsivity. They’re brave, bold, adventuring, and a little flashy.


Breaking things down even further, we have the qualities (sometimes called modalities) that each sign falls under. These qualities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable.

Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) have birthdays toward the beginning of each season, and tend to be leaders and big idea people. Think trendsetters and visionaries.

Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) have birthdays in the middle of each season, and can be seen as stabilizing influences. They can take a spark of imagination from a cardinal sign, and turn it into reality. They take care of the details.

Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) have birthdays at the end of the season, and have learned from the successes and failures of the cardinal and fixed signs. They’re adaptable to change, and can act as the editors of the zodiac. They might put the final touches on the projects that the cardinal signs think up, and the fixed signs build.

So, about that whole “compatibility” thing, you’re asking? Well, we’ll be delving into that shortly…

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