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The zodiac's fixed cross.


The word quality has several meanings:

1) Traditional or classical astrologers use it to describe the four Elements or Triplicites of fire, earth, air and water in terms of temperature and moisture.

Fire is hot and dry. Earth is cold and dry. Air is hot and moist, whereas water is cold and moist.

Traditional astrologers use these ancient Greek categories to assess people's Temperament (personality) and health.[1]

2) Modern astrologers are more likely to define the qualities as the Quadruplicities of the signs' mode of creativity as cardinal, fixed and mutable; or as a general term for the characteristics both of the signs' elements and modality.[2]

In this latter sense, every fourth sign has the same quality. The qualities add different nuances to the four elements. Each fire sign can appear in combination with one of the three qualities, as can the earth, air and water signs. For example, the first, fourth, seventh and tenth signs are all cardinal signs. Because they always stand in a relationship of 90 degrees to each other, they form a cross.[3]


The cardinal cross is made up of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. "Cardinal" stands for active creative energy. An individual with an emphasis on cardinal signs in the horoscope is likely to enjoy new ideas and courses of action, but may lack the staying-power to achieve the initial aims.


The fixed cross consists of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Fixed energy preserves and stabilises. An individual with an emphasis on fixed signs tends to be steady and persevering and likes to hold onto any gains, but can be in danger of missing the right moment to let go.


With the mutable cross of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, the old is dissolved to make way for the new. People with an emphasis on mutable signs in their horoscopes tend to be flexible and able to bring ongoing projects to a conclusion, but they may also find it difficult to assert themselves or to make the best of new opportunities that arise.

Fire Air Water Earth
Cardinal impulse/ action s_aricol.18.gif plan/ encounter s_libcol.18.gif soul/ sentiment (inside) s_cancol.18.gif construction s_capcol.18.gif
Fixed life/ power (outside) s_leocol.18.gif thunder/ change s_aqucol.18.gif passion/ intensive emotion s_scocol.18.gif settlement s_taucol.18.gif
Mutable vision/ overview s_sagcol.18.gif mind/ intellect s_gemcol.18.gif phantasy/ dissolution s_piscol.18.gif adaptation s_vircol.18.gif


The individual qualities are associated with three planets: Jupiter represents cardinal, Saturn fixed and Mercury - the master of alchemical change or transmutatio - mutable energy.

Many ancient cultures speak of the threefold unity of a creative force, stabilising force and finally a dissolving (or destructive) force as three aspects of the divine. It also stands for the division in soul (cardinal), body (fixed) and spirit (mutable). In Hinduism Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. In Christianity God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit correlate to the initiating creative force, its material manifestation, and the power that dissolves (rather than destroys as is the case with Shiva.)

See also


Notes and References

  1. Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro, 2010, On the Heavenly Spheres: A Treatise on Traditional Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers, pp.12-18
  2. James R. Lewis, 2003, The Astrology Book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences, Visible Ink Press, pp. 567-568; Alan Oken, 2008, Soul-Centered Astrology: A Key to your Expanding Self, Nicolas-Hays, Inc.
  3. Robert Hand, 1981, Horoscope Symbols, Whitford Press, pp. 196-199