Nearly like clockwork, my most cosmically inclined musician friend tends to release a record around Aries season, like the true cardinal sign she is. That she creates and does so much around her birthday is really a reflection of her inner Aries harnessing the energy from her quadruplicity.
I know, I know—I’ve probably lost you by now. So, let’s backpedal, shall we? If you’re an astrology novice who only knows that Aries is “the ram one,” then allow me to explain (with the help of a astrologer who really knows her stars from her moons) what you need to know about cardinal signs and astrological quadruplicities.
There are three quadruplicities on the zodiac
“Every sign is endlessly complex and layered,” astrologer Stefanie Iris Weiss tells me. “The signs stand alone, but they’re also deeply intertwined and grouped in various ways.” When it comes to grouping signs, there’s a chance you’re slightly familiar with the concept of the elements: Earth, fire, water, and air signs. For example, I’m a Taurus, so throughout my entire life, I’ve heard that I’m Earthy AF. But these elements are totally separate from the quadruplicities.
“The elements, fire, Earth, air, and water are more about temperament,” Weiss says. “The three quadruplicities or modes show us how each element directs its energy—often in terms of behavior. The modes are cardinal, fixed, and mutable.”
The way that things are divided in this characterization is that four signs belong to each mode. And if you’re an Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn, surprise! You’re a cardinal sign. “Notice that each pair of these signs—Aries and Libra, Cancer and Capricorn—are opposite one another,” Weiss says of the signs and where they fall on the zodiac calendar. That’s another key relationship in each grouping of quadruplicities, and another way to see into the nature of each sign.
Great, so what’s the significance of a cardinal sign, exactly?
Quadruplicities are the energetic force that determines how we behave, and cardinal signs in particular have lots of can-do, are-doing-it, and it’s-done energy. In fact, according to Weiss, the essence of cardinal signs is getting stuff finished and doing things. (So, let’s get all of ’em some Outdoor Voices twin sets, #amiright?)
The essence of cardinal signs is getting stuff finished and doing things.
“Note that each of these signs marks the beginning of a season; they’re the initiators, taking the first taste,” Weiss says. “Seasons are so distinct and palpable right at the start—and you’re starving for it. These signs like to take action, to be constructive, to know that they’re moving forward somehow. They’re self-directed in their given arena.”
If you’re a cardinal sign, you may have the reputation for being a self-starter. You’re not, for example, going to go to a bachelorette party weekend and sit back like one of those “I’m down for whatever!” chill people. NO. You’re the one who has a full itinerary of activities planned, and you expect everyone else to be fully game.
“The shadow energy of cardinal signs is doing too much, driving too hard, being too pushy, and just plain overdoing it,” Weiss says. “It may not seem at first that Cancers, for instance, are like this—but what they tend to overdo is their emotions.” To that point, the exact energy of what a cardinal mode means for your sign and your personality is likely nuanced, but the general themes are there in some form.
Shadow energy aside though, kudos to you, cardinal signs, and your ability to jump to action. Go forth, and create all the all the album releases and bachelorette party itineraries you want. The rest of us are here to enjoy the fruits of your labor.