Another way to subdivide an astrological chart is via the qualities known as Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. To better understand these, it helps to tie these traits to the seasonal cycles of the year. Cardinal signs, the initiators and originators, start each season. The Fixed signs, the stable and consistent ones, occupy the middle period, the heart of a given season. Mutables, the flexible and adaptable ones, are the signs at the end of a season, as the nature begins to shift weather conditions in anticipation.
Aries, cardinal, kicks off the start of the seasonal year, at the beginning of Spring, and like the impatient buds of plants shooting up through the snow, Aries is about action and willpower. Taurus, fixed, is up next. The plants are now growing, the days are getting warmer and Taurus is content to graze in the field and hang out, but as the period shifts in anticipation of Summer, mutable Gemini starts to look around, talking, thinking and gathering information.
Cancer, cardinal, starts the warm summer months with the desire to create a home, now that everyone is fed and talked out. And once the home is built and the hot sunny days of summer stretch out, Leo, the fixed sign, announces his presence to the world, wants to play and expects attention. And as the summer winds down, mutable Virgo, ever practical, starts taking stock of things and categorizing them to see what is needed for the future.
Cardinal Libra opens the Fall, the harvest season, when people have to get together and cooperate to haul in the crops. And once those crops are in and we can relax for a bit, we start to connect to each other in a deeper more passionate way and fixed Scorpio understand this innately. And as we drift towards winter, and our home and personal lives are developing, mutable Sagittarius starts wondering about the big old world out there and wants to travel.
But winter comes in with cardinal Capricorn, who wants to anticipate and prepare for the immediate future, because winter can only be survived with forethought & planning. And once winter has arrived, and we are all kind of stuck in the house for a while, fixed Aquarius starts thinking about the future, and tries to imagine new ideas to improve life. As the year draws to an end, mutable Pisces absorbs it all and connects to everything that came before… until the vernal equinox kicks off another Spring and the cycle begins anew.
And as much as all these sign qualities can be tied to a given seasonal year, they can also be tied to the cycles of life, from birth to death. Aries is like a newborn child thrusting itself into the world and declaring itself ready to go, and as you progress through the signs, you see them acknowledge other people, then acknowledge the world until finally, in Pisces, they are so empathetic that they feel as if they are one with the world and are ready to merge back into Oneness again… until it is time to burst forth as a new life.