Cardinal Signs In Astrology: What it is & What makes them unique

Jovana Petrovic
11 Min Read
cardinal signs

Everyone knows that one person who always seems to come on top and recover fast from a setback.

While others stay stuck in the past, these people make new beginnings seem like a summer breeze and are always chasing the next big thing.

In astrology, these are all qualities associated with the pioneers of the zodiac – the cardinal signs.

These signs always seem to have a solution. They are driven, unafraid to follow their dreams, and rarely shy away from facing challenges.

Cardinal energy brings excitement and novelty. Read on to discover what are cardinal signs all about, and what makes this modality so special…

What is a Cardinal Modality?

what is a cardinal modality

Cardinal signs in astrology are associated with new beginnings.

This is one of the three modalities in astrology and it’s linked with four equinoxes and includes four signs, all of which mark the start of one of the seasons: Aries (Spring), Cancer (Summer), Libra (Autumn), and Capricorn (Winter).

The old astrologers had a superstition that women who had a lot of cardinal signs in their charts are unsuitable for wives because of their rebellious, freedom-loving nature.

Indeed, cardinal signs are full of life, passionate, and unafraid to go after their dreams.

Luckily, in modern times, these qualities are highly sought after and celebrated by both women and men.

After all, this modality is associated with initiation, freshness, and new chapters.

It symbolizes awakenings and potential, and these signs are all about instigating shifts and bringing novelty to the table.

Without this energy, the world would be filled with indecisiveness and stagnation. 

Characteristics of Cardinal Modality

characteristics of cardinal modality

Cardinal signs are all about new starts, leadership, and taking the initiative.

This energy is the fastest moving among the three modalities, and these are the quickest to come up with a solution, start a new project, or approach someone who catches their eye. 

Positive Traits of Cardinal Signs

Cardinal signs in astrology represent activity, movement, and newness.

These folks go into activities, projects, and relationships with full force, be that physical force needed to win competitions, deep emotions, or a creative streak.

They are the initiators of the zodiac, the action-oriented, and the dynamic ones. They are the first to suggest innovative solutions, try something out of the box and lead the way.

They are the decisive ones and go into novel projects with admirable zest and enthusiasm, often inspiring others to do the same. 

Cardinal signs prefer to live in the present moment and see inspiration in the littlest things.

Every issue they encounter is faced head-on, and their solutions-oriented nature allows them to easily let go of the past while looking forward to the future.

They have fast reactions which make them incredibly agile, mentally or physically, and are motivated to succeed. 

Negative Traits of Cardinal Signs

While they are more keen to go into new experiences and start projects than fixed or mutable signs, the cardinal four will also quickly abandon the ship if bored, or something more exciting comes along to distract them.

While fast to instigate change and start anew, they can burn out easily. These signs have a competitive nature, and may subconsciously seek conflict and challenges to feel alive. 

Cardinal signs rarely go against their instincts and desires, and unless they are passionate about something or someone, these signs may find it very hard to get moving.

This can create frustration with time limits and rules, and make it difficult for them to complete mundane, day-to-day activities.

They may lack focus and long-lasting determination. They are also highly reactive, and may act in the spur of the moment, sometimes too impulsively and without thinking about consequences. 

What Are The Four Cardinal Signs?

In astrology, there are 4 cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

While they share modality, they are all unique.

Although modality plays a key role in determining how signs operate, the characteristics of a signal are determined by much more than just the modality, especially the element and the ruler.

Here is what makes each special:


cardinal sign aries

The sign of Aries is a blend of the two fastest qualities in astrology, the element of fire and the cardinal modality, and the biggest novelty seeker and firestarter among cardinal signs.

These folks are leaders with entrepreneurial minds but also have an insatiable thirst for excitement and a good work-play balance.

They don’t tolerate boredom and idleness, and being Mars-ruled, will rarely back away from a good challenge.

Being the sign that marks the start of the zodiac wheel, Aries is all about new beginnings and spontaneity.

These folks chase what they want and need to follow their impulses to feel alive.

The combination of fire, Marsian, and cardinal energy gives them a real warrior persona, and they are always in the first trenches when things get tough, bravely charging forward.


cardinal sign cancer

Cardinal signs astrology includes a water sign of Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon.

This combination of energies gives a highly sensitive, intuitive, yet courageous, and action-oriented nature.

Cancer derives fuel for action from emotions, empathy, and gut instincts. Being a water sign, it’s not only adaptable but highly motivated to seek new strategies that will ensure emotional fulfillment. 

Unless they feel unsafe, these folks usually extend themselves to connect with others heart-to-heart and are unafraid to initiate sensitive subjects and talk about feelings.

They will be the first to offer help, guidance, and nurturance, and the first ones to bravely open up and be vulnerable in a relationship. 


cardinal sign libra

As a Venus-ruled sign, Libras are interested in beauty, harmony, and social justice.

This is the sign of the peacemakers and mediators who initiate positive social change and always do what they can to bring people together.

As an air sign, Libra initiates communication and actively promotes equality. 

The cardinal quality is not only reflected in their ability to start and lead conversations and productive debates but also in their ability to act on their creative ideas.

A unique combination of cardinal and Venusian qualities gives them the ability to make everything they touch a masterpiece.

These folks find inspiration and beauty everywhere they go and will actively pursue harmony, in art or relationships. 


cardinal sign capricorn

It’s no surprise that Capricorns are seen as the bosses and workaholics of the zodiac.

Being an Earth sign, Capricorn has the determination of Earth signs and initiative of the cardinal signs, which makes them incredible leaders.

Ruled by the great disciplinarian, Saturn, a Capricorn can clearly define and go after their goals but also persevere long enough to achieve lasting success.

Capricorns are willing to sacrifice temporary pleasures for sustainable results.

The mix of cardinal and earth energy gives them not only willpower, but also resilience, discipline, and drive.

Being an earth sign, they seek security, but unlike their fellow earth sign of Taurus or Virgo, they love challenging themselves and dealing with what needs to be done head-on, without excessive analysis or procrastination. 

Are Cardinal Signs Compatible?

are cardinal signs compatible

Signs that belong to the same modality form difficult aspects, which are square and opposition.

These are the aspects of friction, tension, and conflict. Cardinal signs in astrology are associated with impulsivity, and they are quick to react. 

Because of that, there can be a lot of frustration, explosiveness, and misunderstandings due to vastly different needs and nature which are determined by the astrological element. This is reflected in all connections, be those personal or professional. 

These signs want to take the lead and all have very different styles of leadership and different approaches to conflict resolution.

For instance, while Aries leads with determination and dominance, Cancer may prefer to lead with compassion and emotions, which can be too smothering for the independent Aries.

Unbalanced give and take and the inability to communicate one’s needs clearly are all common themes in cardinal-cardinal connections.

The good news is, although not the most compatible, cardinal opposition and square can generate a lot of passion and excitement.

These four signs are active and love a good challenge, and connecting with one another can fulfill this desire, keeping the flames of a relationship alive for a long time.

You can calculate sign compatibility here.


Modality in astrology can tell us a lot about how we take action, and how we prefer to assert and express ourselves.

Understanding the nature of cardinal energy can help us acknowledge our limitations and obstacles, and also become aware of our inherent needs and leadership potential.

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Jovana Petrovic is a writer, holistic tarot reader, and traditional Western astrologer. She possesses clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities, which she uses to help others tap into their purpose, release old patterns, and realize their fullest potential. Her practice blends intuitive guidance with psychic tools, knowledge, and experience. As a graduate Pedagogist and spirituality enthusiast, Jovana uses her expertise to help people navigate through their spiritual awakening and heal their inner child. Besides tarot and astrology, she practices incorporating shadow work, self-love techniques, and chakra healing.