Dualities, Elements, and Modalities: How to Classify the Zodiac Signs

There are three simple ways the zodiac signs are classified and grouped together: the dualities, the elements, and the modalities. Each zodiac sign is a unique combination of an duality, element, and modality.

The Dualities

There are two dualities: masculine and feminine. These aren’t to be confused with the society’s definition of “masculine” and “feminine.” The two dualities simply show us the direction of the signs’ energy.

  • The masculine signs are Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius. The masculine duality is also called the extroverted, active, or yang duality. The signs all direct their energy outwards. They tend to be more extroverted and assertive.
  • The feminine signs are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces. The feminine duality is also called the introverted, passive, or yin duality. The signs all direct their energy inwards. They tend to be more introverted and less direct.

The Elements

There are four elements or triplicities: fire, earth, air, and water. The four elements simply show us basic personality traits associated with the signs’ archetypes. Note that the masculine signs above comprise of the fire and air signs, while the feminine signs comprise of the earth and water signs.

  • The fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Fire signs are enthusiastic, energetic, outgoing, passionate, and brave. The fire signs also rule the Houses of Life (the 1st, 5th, and 9th houses).
  • The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth signs are hardworking, sensual, and practical. The earth signs also rule the Houses of Wealth (the 2nd, 6th, and 10th houses).
  • The air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air signs are intellectual, social, and idealistic. The air signs also rule the Houses of Relationships (the 3rd, 7th, and 11th houses).
  • The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water signs are emotional, intuitive, and moody. The water signs also rule the Houses of Endings (the 4th, 8th, and 12th houses).

The Modalities

There are three modalities or quadruplicities: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The three modalities show us how the signs interact with the world around them.

  • The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Cardinal signs are dynamic, enterprising, with strong leadership qualities. The cardinal signs also rule the Angular Houses (the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses).
  • The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. Fixed signs are stubborn, determined, and relentless. The fixed signs also rule the Succedent Houses (the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th houses).
  • The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. Mutable signs are easy-going, flexible, and adaptable. The mutable signs also rule the Cadent Houses (the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th houses).

Summary

So look at the zodiac wheel below. Here is the key to the colors used:

  • Orange: Cardinal sign
  • Purple: Fixed sign
  • Pink: Mutable sign
  • Red: Fire sign
  • Green: Earth sign
  • Darker blue: Water sign
  • Sky blue: Air sign
  • White dot: Masculine
  • Black dot: Feminine

So you can see how much pattern exists within the zodiac wheel.

Below is the unique combination of duality, element, and modality for each zodiac sign:

  • ARIES: Masculine, Fire, Cardinal
  • TAURUS: Feminine, Earth, Fixed
  • GEMINI: Masculine: Air, Mutable
  • CANCER: Feminine, Water, Cardinal
  • LEO: Masculine, Fire, Fixed
  • VIRGO: Feminine, Earth, Mutable
  • LIBRA: Masculine, Air, Cardinal
  • SCORPIO: Feminine, Water, Fixed
  • SAGITTARIUS: Masculine, Fire, Mutable
  • CAPRICORN: Feminine, Earth, Cardinal
  • AQUARIUS: Masculine, Air, Fixed
  • PISCES: Feminine, Water, Mutable
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Empty Houses: An Explanation

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What’s an empty house?

The term “empty house” is pretty self-explanatory. You have an empty house when you have a house with no luminaries or planets in it. If you are unsure of how to check what placements are in what houses, watch this reference video. Empty houses indicate a part of your life that isn’t as prominent as other parts, since each house represents and encompasses a different part of your life.

I have _____ many empty houses! Am I doomed?

Of course not! Everybody has a few empty houses, since there are twelve houses and only ten luminaries and planets. I personally have four empty houses. My boyfriend has six empty houses. Any number of empty houses is okay!

How do I interpret an empty house?

  • If you have an empty first house… your expression and identity will not be very prominent in your life. You may have identity problems, and people may have a vague understanding of you.
  • If you have an empty second house… your possessions and money will not be very prominent in your life. This does not necessarily mean you will be less wealthy. Your possessions will simply not define your life. 
  • If you have an empty third house… your communication will not be very prominent in your life. You may have a career or lifestyle that does not require a lot socializing. 
  • If you have an empty fourth house… your family and household will not be very prominent in your life. Your connection with your family or roots may be a little vague or feel incomplete. 
  • If you have an empty fifth house… your sex life, children, and creativity will not be very prominent in your life. This does not mean you will never have children or sex. Rather, it means that these parts of your life will not be too defining for your life.
  • If you have an empty sixth house… your health or service to others will not be very prominent in your life. You may go through life without suffering from health issues, and you may have a career or lifestyle that isn’t too service-oriented.
  • If you have an empty seventh house… your relationships will not be very prominent in your life. This does not mean that you will not getting married or have many partners. This simply means that your relationships will not define your life.
  • If you have an empty eighth house… death and your transformations will not be very prominent in your life. You may not see many people around you die, and you may not experience many changes.
  • If you have an empty ninth house… your philosophies and ideals will not be very prominent in your life. You may not feel very spiritual or philosophical. Or you may not have very grand ideals. You may feel disconnected from spirituality or philosophy.
  • If you have an empty tenth house… your career and reputation will not be very prominent in your life. This does not mean you will not have a good, successful job. However, you may feel disconnected from your career, and it may not define you very well.
  • If you have an empty eleventh house… your dreams and friendships will not be very prominent in your life. You may not have many friendships in your life. You also might be a more practical, less dreamy person.
  • If you have an empty twelfth house… your undoings and secrets will not be very prominent in your life. You may be a more straightforward sort of person with fewer secrets than the people around you.

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The Zodiac: Structuring the Unstructured

A zodiac sign is a 30º division of the zodiac wheel. Each of the twelve signs is associated with a different archetype or energy which is expressed in a person’s natal chart through different placements and positions. In tropical astrology (which is the most popular study of astrology in the West), the zodiac signs are not measured directly based off the positions of the constellations corresponding to each sign. 

What are the different zodiac signs?

ARIES: “I AM”

  • Symbolized by the Ram
  • Defined by raw energy, aggression, competition, and leadership
  • Ruled by Mars, the planet of drive and anger
  • Rules the First House, the house of expression and identity
  • Element: Fire
  • Modality: Cardinal

TAURUS: “I HAVE”

  • Symbolized by the Bull
  • Defined by beauty, gluttony, materialism, and sensitivity
  • Ruled by Venus, the planet of beauty and art
  • Rules the Second House, the house of possession
  • Element: Earth
  • Modality: Fixed

GEMINI: “I THINK”

  • Symbolized by the Twins
  • Defined by wittiness, sociability, adaptability, and language
  • Ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication
  • Rules the Third House, the house of communication
  • Element: Air
  • Modality: Mutable

CANCER: “I FEEL”

  • Symbolized by the Crab
  • Defined by maternity, intuition, compassion, and moodiness
  • Ruled by the Moon, the planet of emotions and our inner child
  • Rules the Fourth House, the house of our home life and roots
  • Element: Water
  • Modality: Cardinal

LEO: “I WILL”

  • Symbolized by the Lion
  • Defined by expression, sexuality, affection, and pride
  • Ruled by the Sun, the planet of identity
  • Rules the Fifth House, the house of creativity and sex
  • Element: Fire
  • Modality: Fixed

VIRGO: “I ANALYZE”

  • Symbolized by the Virgin
  • Defined by selflessness, analysis, criticism, and practicality
  • Ruled by Mercury, the planet of mental processes
  • Rules the Sixth House, the house of service and health
  • Element: Earth
  • Modality: Mutable

LIBRA: “I BALANCE”

  • Symbolized by the Scales
  • Defined by elegance, tranquility, romance, and interaction
  • Ruled by Venus, the planet of relationships
  • Rules the Seventh House, the house of partnerships
  • Element: Air
  • Modality: Cardinal

SCORPIO: “I LUST”

  • Symbolized by the Scorpion
  • Defined by jealousy, passion, secrets, and intensity
  • Ruled by Pluto, the planet of secrets and destruction
  • Rules the Eighth House, the house of death and transformation
  • Element: Water
  • Modality: Fixed

SAGITTARIUS: “I SEE”

  • Symbolized by the Archer
  • Defined by honesty, philosophy, travel, and restlessness
  • Ruled by Jupiter, the planet of expansion and luck
  • Rules the Ninth House, the house of ideals and philosophy
  • Element: Fire
  • Modality: Mutable

CAPRICORN: “I USE”

  • Symbolized by the Sea Goat
  • Defined by ambition, strength, greed, and security
  • Ruled by Saturn, the planet of limitation and authority
  • Rules the Tenth House, the house of reputation and careers
  • Element: Earth
  • Modality: Cardinal

AQUARIUS: “I KNOW”

  • Symbolized by the Waterbearer
  • Defined by innovation, objectivity, eccentricity, and independence
  • Ruled by Uranus, the planet of progression and technology
  • Rules the Eleventh House, the house of hopes and friendships
  • Element: Air
  • Modality: Fixed

PISCES: “I BELIEVE”

  • Symbolized by the Fish
  • Defined by creativity, otherworldliness, dreams, and idealism
  • Ruled by Neptune, the planet of illusions and mysticism
  • Rules the Twelfth House, the house of secrets and sacrifice
  • Element: Water
  • Modality: Mutable

The Youthfulness of Aries

I shall start this blog at the beginning, at the most raw, at the base sign of the zodiac – Aries, the Ram. Ruled by the planet named after the Roman god of war, Mars, and armed with fire, Aries is the most energetic sign and the sign of being, of doing, and of acting. The sun enters the land of Aries during the first moment of spring, the season of youth and birth, which mirrors Aries’ rawness and energy. When Aries is prominent in a person’s natal chart, you know that person will be a leader, full of that raw energy.

I have never met an Aries who was not bursting at the seems with energy and life, like a small child being welcomed into the world. An energy that, if not harnessed or directed into some sort of creative outlet where they can make or construct something, can lead to dangerous, powerful aggression, unrivaled by any other sign of the zodiac.

With the energy of a child, Aries often has the naivety of one as well. They are passionate and bright, but they don’t always understand why they do what they do or the consequences of their actions. Aries often act on his instincts, trusting that everything else will then fall into place.