The Elements & Modes of the Zodiac


To better understand the signs of the zodiac, let’s dive into the elements and modes that comprise all twelve astrological signs.


I like to explain it this way: let’s imagine the sky is divided into twelve equal slices of pie. But each pie slice has a different filling and crust combination. There are four possible fillings - let’s imagine apple, pumpkin, cherry, pecan; and three possible crusts – pastry, graham cracker, oreo crust - and no two are the same. So that means one slice might be an apple pie with pastry, or a cherry pie with graham cracker, or a pecan pie with oreo crust. Twelve possible combinations, twelve zodiac signs.


The actual zodiac consists of four elements (fire, earth, air, or water) combined with three modalities (cardinal, fixed, or mutable). Let’s explore each element and modality separately.


Fire: When you describe someone as “fiery,” what adjectives come to mind? Passionate, hot-headed, active, brash are a few. The fire signs of the zodiac are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, and they are known for their capacity to take initiative and start new things - perhaps not always to complete them!


Earth: If we are describing an “earthy” person, we’re likely to call them grounded, even-tempered, practical, and dependable. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn and their stability and endurance are well-known, but so is their stubbornness and potential for being more than a little predictable.