What You Need To Know About Cardinal Signs

When you consider your main zodiac sign — aka your sun sign — you probably think about the month you were born or the element associated with your sign. But did you know that your sign is also affected by seasonality?

The place your sign falls in its season of the year is known as its "modality." And because there are three months to each season, there are three possible modalities into which your sign might fall: cardinal, mutable, and fixed. Signs in the same modality tend to interact with energy in the same way, whether in terms of action, self-expression, or emotional reactivity (via PopSugar).

Fixed signs, which include Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, are prone to be the most stubborn or consistent in their ways. Mutable signs, on the other hand, are generally the most changeable and adaptive, which we see in Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. But what if you aren't any of those signs? That means your zodiac sits among the group known as cardinal signs.

What are cardinal signs?

Cardinal signs represent the first astrological period in a new season, including Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Aries, which falls between March 21 and April 19, is not only the first sign in spring but the first sign of the entire zodiac cycle. Then, Cancer launches summer from June 21 to July 22, Libra kicks off fall from September 23 to October 22, and Capricorn begins the final season — winter — from December 22 to January 19 (via Horoscope.com).

"The word 'cardinal' comes from the Latin word cardinalis, which means 'serving as a hinge,'" astrologer Clarisse Monahan tells Bustle. "Hinge means to bring something forward, and cardinal signs always initiate, or bring forward, the seasons. Their energy is very potent as it ignites and launches things forward."

The concept of modality is not limited to your sun sign, and the proactive energy of cardinal signs can manifest in various aspects of your life. For instance, if your Venus is in a cardinal sign, you may have a strong romantic drive and a tendency to go after the person you want. Or, if you have a cardinal sign for your Mars, you're probably more than willing to fight and put in the work to get ahead. But if your sun sign is indeed in Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn, you're likely to see a broad impact on your outward personality.

How does being a cardinal sign impact your personality?

Every sign in the zodiac has its own profile and idiosyncrasies, but common threads run through the four signs contained in any modality. When it comes to cardinal signs, people born in these periods tend to be high-energy and impactful. Because cardinal signs are positioned at the beginning of the season, this modality imbues a powerful, trailblazing manner. Ambitious and creative, these signs can be seen as independent leaders at best or pushy and impatient at worst (via Astrology Zone).

These personality traits can be a huge boon to creative endeavors, as cardinal signs aren't afraid to experiment or push the boundaries of something new. They're quick to initiate and not as susceptible to distractions as mutable signs.

You'll also find that people with cardinal signs in their charts have trouble sitting still because they are quintessential doers. With cardinal signs, a Netflix binge is less likely to mean lounging on the sofa and more likely to mean some show running in the background while they fold laundry, deep clean the kitchen, or upcycle an old bookshelf. Because they're always chasing growth, relaxation and productivity go hand-in-hand.

For better or for worse, cardinal signs can also have a competitive streak. In their minds, anything worth doing is worth doing first and best (via Astrostyle). So if you're a cardinal sign that always finds yourself striving to set a new trend at the office or dominate your nieces and nephews at Monopoly, know that you're in good company.

Every cardinal sign is associated with a different element

As you might already know, every astrological sign is correlated with one of four elements — earth, air, fire, and water. The cardinal signs are no exception. Each cardinal sign has a different elemental affiliation, which colors the way their energy manifests.

Aries, the first cardinal sign, is tied to the element of fire. Fire signs are known to be creative, charismatic, and passionate (per Astrology.com). Combined with the inherent drive and focus of its cardinal placement, this can make Aries into a headstrong force of nature.

Cancer, meanwhile, is associated with the deeper, more reflective element of water. Water signs are also imaginative, but in a gentler way than fire signs, with a strong component of intuition and emotional sensitivity (via Astrology Zone). While their cardinal placement means that Cancerians can still be ambitious and decisive, they may be more attuned to any ripple effects their actions will cause among the people around them.

As an air sign, Libras may lean more in an intellectual, socially-conscious direction (per Tarot.com). Rather than blazing a path in corporate settings, you might find Libra's cardinal energy put to use spearheading a non-profit campaign or leading groundbreaking scientific research.

Finally, Capricorn is tied to the element of earth. Earth signs tend to be steady, grounded, and pragmatic (via Cafe Astrology). For a cardinal sign like Capricorn, this can translate to a slow but steady march toward their goals. Rather than plow forward recklessly like fiery Aries might, earthy Capricorns are happy to follow their step-by-step plan to success.

The cardinal houses affiliated with each cardinal sign

Most people know their sun sign, and maybe even other elements of their astrological chart, such as their moon sign or rising sign. But the idea of houses in astrology is less widely understood. Basically, there are 12 houses, each associated with a facet of the human experience, such as love, family, communication, and health. Each sign in your chart falls into a specific house depending on your time of birth, adding depth and nuance to your readings.

While the houses in your chart may align and juxtapose with your signs in a number of ways, each one also shares an affiliation with a specific sign that resonates with its energy. These houses are numbered according to their sign's placement in the zodiac, and those affiliated with the cardinal signs — the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses — are sometimes called the cardinal houses.

The first house, affiliated with Aries, is the house of self, implying a sign's connection to your appearance and self-perception (per Labyrinthos). The fourth house, associated with Cancer, is the house of home and family, lending any sign in its domain a domestic angle. The seventh house, tied to Libra energy, is the house of partnership, suggesting the importance of relationships and networking. And the tenth house, corresponding with Capricorn, is the house of social status. As such, any signs in your chart that fall in the tenth house will take on a nuance of ambition or concern for public image.

Cardinal signs' compatibility with fixed and mutable signs

Earlier, we explained how, in contrast to cardinal signs' active, go-getter energy, fixed signs tend toward stubborn consistency and mutable signs show change-friendly adaptability. And as you might expect, the differences — or sometimes, the similarities — between signs in these modalities can play a significant role in their compatibility.

Because cardinal signs are predisposed to take the lead, two people with a lot of cardinal energy in their chart can easily end up butting heads (via Astrology Daily). Too much alike and both vying for control, cardinal signs may find that their connection feels more like a power struggle than a partnership. As such, people with cardinal suns may have smoother relationships with sun signs that are fixed or mutable.

The dynamic between cardinal signs and fixed signs can be more productive. As natural stabilizers, fixed signs may provide much-needed structure for a cardinal sign's proactive urges. As Astrostyle notes, a cardinal sign might provide the spark of an idea while the fixed sign will take strategic steps to make that idea a reality. In a loving, respectful partnership, this pairing can be quite the power couple.

That said, the adaptability of mutable signs may make them the most natural fit for cardinal signs' take-charge nature. Where cardinal signs might clash with their own kind or run head-on into a fixed sign's stubborn opinion, mutable signs are likely to be more accommodating to their directness. And where mutable signs are sometimes considered flighty or indecisive, a cardinal sign will probably have no problem stepping in to help them make up their mind. As long as both partners are feeling seen and heard, this pairing could bring out the best in each sign.