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).


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

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?


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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