Astrology 101: Zodiac Sign Elements, Qualities and Polarities

Astrology 101: Zodiac Sign Elements, Qualities and Polarities
Astrology 101: Zodiac Sign Elements, Qualities and Polarities

The astrological Signs are broken down into Qualities, Elements and Polarities. These categories help us understand the archetypes of the Signs a little more. They’re easily memorized, and once you get a handle on these, it is far simpler to remember what drives each astrological Sign.

The Astrological Qualities are Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable

Cardinal signs, symbolizing new beginnings and seasonal change, tend to be self-starters. While they may not always finish what they start, where they fall in your chart says where you might find it natural to take some initiative. While they represent where in your life you might be a self-starter, your ability to stay on task and not get distracted may be lower. These are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn

The next Quality is called Fixed. It is what it sounds like. These Signs describe a place in your life where you’re more stubborn and immobile, but on the higher vibe they represent dependability, loyalty and steadiness. These are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.

The third Quality is called Mutable. This describes signs that go with the flow. They are where you are changeable and adaptable. On the lower end, perhaps it also indicates changing your mind a lot or not being as reliable. These are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

Fire, Earth, Air, and Water Are the Astrological Elements

Fire signs usually have an explosive energy about them. They might be a quick flash or a slow burn, but burn they do. Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are the Fire Signs.

Earth tends to be grounded, reliable, sensible, into physical pleasures and sensuality, and steady. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are the Earth Signs.

Air tends to value intellect over emotion. Freedom-loving and sometimes flighty — imagine Air just floating around… These Air Signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.

Water tends to be emotional, intuitive, and often romantic, but it can boil when hot and indulge in escapism. The Water Signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.

Zodiac Sign Polarities Explained

Some astrologers call the Sign polarities Positive and Negative, while others call them Masculine and Feminine. Both have a misleading connotation. The reference to gender in this case is more like it is used in languages like German or Spanish than it is about physical sex.

Think of them as Assertive and Receptive vibes. Assertive is more likely to put itself out into the world, while Receptive is more empathic, intuitive, and draws the world into it. Like the Animus and Anima archetypes, we all have a serving of both polarities in our natal charts. So, Masculine or Positive indicates an Assertive Sign, and you can think of a Feminine or Negative polarity as a Receptive Sign.

There are six of each, and it simply varies every other one of the Signs around the Zodiac. So, the Masculine-Assertive would be Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius.

The Feminine-Receptive Signs would them be Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces.

Another way to remember this is that Air and Fire are Masculine, Positive, Assertive Signs. Meanwhile, the Feminine, Negative, Receptive Signs are Earth and Water. See how that all flows together?

Here’s the Breakdown of Signs By Polarity, Quality, and Element

You will see that no two signs are exactly alike. You may notice  —Sign by Sign — how the Polarities, Qualities, and Elements have a cycle of their own.

  • Aries is Masculine Cardinal Fire
  • Taurus is Feminine Fixed Earth
  • Gemini is Masculine Mutable Air
  • Cancer is Feminine Cardinal Water
  • Leo is Masculine Fixed Fire
  • Virgo is Feminine Mutable Earth
  • Libra is Masculine Cardinal Air
  • Scorpio is Feminine Fixed Water
  • Sagittarius is Masculine Mutable Fire
  • Capricorn is Feminine Cardinal Earth
  • Aquarius is Masculine Fixed Air
  • Pisces is Feminine Mutable Water

While there are other details that fill in the blanks about the Signs that personalize them and give them depth, understanding how they evolve and cycle through these categories can help anyone learn and understand them in a deeper, more meaningful way.