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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Astrology + Compatibility: A Guide

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First off, I am going to give you the disclaimer that all astrology bloggers love to give: astrology does not dictate exactly how well people get along. A person’s natal chart does not set into stone what the person’s personality or essence is, so it’s important not to take astrological compatibility too seriously. Even if you and your crush or partner are incompatible astrologically, it does not mean you cannot have a happy, healthy relationship.

Second, the best way to get full, proper insight into the compatibility between two people is to draw the synastry and composite charts for them. You can find chart generators for synastry and composite charts on astro.com in the Extended Chart Selection. I will discuss these charts further in a future post.

What signs are compatible?

Signs that form harmonious aspects are the most compatible. So, signs of the same element or of the same duality (except for the sign’s sister) are the most compatible.

Pairs between the same sign are also good, but not as strong as harmonious aspect pairs.

Different astrologers view the compatibility of sister signs differently. Personally, I believe that sister signs of the mutable and cardinal modalities are compatible, while the sister signs of the fixed modality are less compatible. However, this is very open to interpretation.

Signs that form square aspects are the trickiest. These are signs of the same modality, not including the sign’s sister.

Semisextile and inconjunct pairs are tricky, but not as tricky as the square pairs.

So, here are the signs that are most to least compatible for each sign (using the order: trine pairs, sextile pairs, same sign, sister sign, inconjunct, semisextile, and square):

  • ARIES: Sagittarius, Leo; Gemini, Aquarius; Aries; Libra; Virgo, Scorpio; Pisces, Taurus; Capricorn, Cancer
  • TAURUS: Virgo, Capricorn; Pisces, Cancer; Taurus; Scorpio; Libra, Sagittarius; Aries, Gemini; Leo, Aquarius
  • GEMINI: Aquarius, Libra; Aries, Leo; Gemini; Sagittarius; Capricorn, Scorpio; Cancer, Taurus; Virgo, Pisces
  • CANCER: Scorpio, Pisces; Virgo, Taurus; Cancer; Capricorn; Sagittarius, Aquarius; Leo, Gemini; Libra, Aries
  • LEO: Aries, Sagittarius; Gemini, Libra; Leo; Aquarius; Pisces, Capricorn; Cancer, Virgo; Taurus, Scorpio
  • VIRGO: Capricorn, Taurus; Scorpio, Cancer; Virgo; Pisces; Aries, Aquarius; Libra, Leo; Gemini, Sagittarius
  • LIBRA: Aquarius, Gemini; Leo, Sagittarius; Libra; Aries; Taurus, Pisces; Scorpio, Virgo; Cancer, Capricorn
  • SCORPIO: Pisces, Cancer; Capricorn, Virgo; Scorpio; Taurus; Aries, Gemini; Sagittarius, Libra; Leo, Aquarius
  • SAGITTARIUS: Aries, Leo; Libra, Aquarius; Sagittarius; Gemini; Cancer, Taurus; Capricorn, Scorpio; Pisces, Virgo
  • CAPRICORN: Virgo, Taurus; Scorpio, Pisces; Capricorn; Cancer; Leo, Gemini; Aquarius, Sagittarius; Libra, Aries
  • AQUARIUS: Gemini, Libra; Aries, Sagittarius; Aquarius; Leo; Virgo, Cancer; Capricorn, Pisces; Scorpio, Taurus
  • PISCES: Cancer, Scorpio; Capricorn, Taurus; Pisces; Virgo; Leo, Libra; Aries, Aquarius; Sagittarius, Gemini

What placements do I use?

Of course, you can’t just use sun sign-sun sign compatibility! Figure out your placements and the placements of your partner/crush, and look at interplanetary compatibility. For example, if you are a Virgo sun, Gemini moon, Libra Venus and your partner is a Sagittarius sun, Taurus moon, Capricorn Venus – you have strong sun x moon compatibility and sun x Venus compatibility because Sagittarius sun is compatible with Gemini moon and Libra Venus, and Virgo sun is compatible with Taurus moon and Capricorn Venus. Here are my favorite planets to compare when it comes to compatibility:

  • Sun x Sun – how well your personalities work together
  • Sun x Moon – how well you balance or understand each other’s emotions and meet each other’s needs
  • Moon x Venus – romantic and emotional compatibility
  • Sun x Venus – romantic, feminine attraction
  • Sun x Mars – sexual, masculine attraction
  • Mars x Venus – physical and romantic compatibility
  • Mars x Mars – sexual compatibility
  • Venus x Venus – romantic compatibility
  • Rising x Venus – initial attraction
  • Sun x descendant – general attraction
  • Juno x Sun – long term attraction

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.