The 3 Modes
The 3 Modes of astrology (Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable), also known as qualities and modalities, represent three ways that cosmic energy flows. The 3 Modes describe the characteristic manners in which energy can be applied to all aspects of life. They depict the style of action/reaction we adopt whenever were dealing with people and situations. Zodiac Signs of the same quality are incompatible.
Four signs of the zodiac are classified to each of the 3 modes, and astrologers often like to use the four seasons of the year as an analogous way to demonstrate the unfolding stages of these modes. This is appropriate, since all twelve signs are intimately connected to the seasonal cycles.
Each season consists of three months, and each month appears to reveal different modes of energy in operation. The first stage of a season, related to the Cardinal Signs, expresses an energy pattern that describes the initial thrust or momentum that begins the season. It’s a time when notable changes start to occur.
A season’s cardinal beginnings signal an active phase when the new qualities of that season rush in. The changes in Nature can seem like dramatic turning points. Whatever a season is primarily all about, its cardinal month and sign (starting at the equinox and solstice points of the year) reflect the energy-generating display of that season’s dynamics – away with the old, worn-out reminders of the previous season, and in with fresh energy that needs to be released. The months and signs associated with the cardinal mode starting from the first day of spring in the Northern hemisphere are April (Aries), July (Cancer), October (Libra), and January (Capricorn). Cardinal signs, which signal the start of each season, make good leaders. They like to take the initiative and are good at making commitments, but they’re not good at following through, often because they over commit themselves.
Following this cardinal phase are the Fixed Signs. The word fixed sounds like something is to stay put here for a while and not move. This second stage (second month) of any season is when fixed-mode energy is strong. As the cardinal stage wanes and thus a period of an initial flurry of activity and change has diminished, the season settles next into its most intense, concentrated expression.
Any extreme conditions typical of that season are now evident during this time (such as summer’s scorching heat waves and winter’s blinding blizzards). Nature is at its peak during this fixed phase. Actually, changes occur less often, since consistency and stability reign (the days can seem almost boringly similar to one another). The months and signs associated with the fixed mode are May (Taurus), August (Leo), November (Scorpio), and February (Aquarius). The Sun moves into the fixed signs at the height of each season, when the weather is at its most intense. Fixed signs are good at following through. They are persistent and determined, but not good at adapting to change.
The final phase belongs to the Mutable Signs. Here is when the seasons starts to get fickle, weather-wise. A time when nothing is all that predictable. Change is in the air, as the season winds down and, little by little, a transformation begins. Nature is in a state of transition. Those characteristics that were so vividly present during its fixed phase now start to lose steam, as the steady pattern begins to break up and give way to the adjustments needed for a brand-new seasonal experience during the cardinal month, once again. The months and seasons associated with the mutable mode are June (Gemini), September (Virgo), December (Sagittarius), and March (Pisces).
The Sun enters the mutable signs when the seasons are changing and the weather is variable. Mutable signs manage change very well because they are adaptable and flexible, but they are not good at taking the lead, or making a firm commitment.
It is important to note which of the 3 modes is dominant in our chart (especially if our Sun, Moon, and/or Ascendant are found in this mode). This will determine our most characteristic method of how we basically move out into life to achieve personal goals. We often attract people whose charts are loaded with the least emphasized of the 3 modes (having little or no planetary emphasis) in our own charts. They show us the value of adapting to some of the ways in which that mode typically activates. This dynamic also applies to our birth chart’s least emphasized element.
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