Learning Western Astrology is not simply being able to understand what sign you, or anyone else, was born under. The devil is in the details. These include knowing about ascending planets, decans, aspects and Triplicity. Elements, colors, plants and various other attributes are all part of the learning process. Taken as a whole, astrology emerges as a complex entity. Among the many different components you need to examine and understand are something called the quadruplicities or qualities.

What are the Qualities in Astrology?

The term qualities refer to a specific characteristic of each sign. Each sign has a specific quality attached to it. In fact, the quality refers specifically to the element describing the sign. In other words, each of the 12 signs of the zodiac has both a quality and an element. These are the primary categories. Yet, while the elements or triplicity is said to indicate the basic temperament of a sign, the quality denotes the means of its expression.

{#/wp-content/uploads/images/tattoo_pictures_of_zodiac_signs_scorpio_zodiac_tattoo_designs.jpg}The Three Qualities

Qualities are usually treated in less depth than are the elements with which they are associated. Nevertheless, you should understand what they are and to what they refer. As is the case with the elements, each quality is attributed to more than one specific sign. Below is a list and explanation of the three qualities:

  • Cardinal: Cardinal indicates the sign may be initiating, moving or movable. The group of Cardinal signs consists of the following four: Aries (March 21 – April 20), Cancer (June 22 – July 23), Libra (September 23 – October 23) and Capricorn (December 22 – January 20). Cardinal signs are those involved in starting new activities. They move or act. When perceived in a less positive light, it is argued they do not have staying power.


  • Mutable: If you wish to identify a sign as mutable, you can look to a common indicator – flexibility or adaptability. The Mutable Cross consists of the following four signs: Gemini (May 22 – June 21), Virgo (August 23 – September 22), Sagittarius (November 23 – December 21) and Pisces (February 19 – March 20). A sign that is called mutable tends to respond to any new situation by adapting. This characteristic may extend to being over flexible or too compliant.


  • Fixed: The term “fixed” when applied to a sign is indicative of a certain approach. Simply stated, fixed signs react as they would in any situation – normally. They continue along their way in the same, reliable, previously established pattern. In unfavorable instances, this solidifies into or indicates a lack of flexibility and the inability to change to fit the circumstances. On a positive note, it indicates persistence and consistency as well as reliability. Fixed signs consist of Taurus (April 21 – May 21), Leo (July 23 – August 22), Scorpio (October 24 – November 22) and Aquarius (January 21 – February 18).


A more modern approach to the qualities describes them accordingly:

  • Cardinal represents centrifugal force
  • Fixed represents centripetal force
  • Mutable represents wave motion

Every zodiac sign is classified by both an element and a quality. These two characteristics are used to define the basic temperament and the expression of it. If you wish to become adept at astrology, it is essential you know about the different qualities and their application.

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