Even if you check your horoscope on the reg (read: every day), sometimes, it can still feel like you need a decoder ring to suss out the meaning of astrology-specific phrases. Case in point: "fixed sign."
Um, WTH is that supposed to mean, and what does it say about you? Like, are you Ms. Fix It, or are you more of a fixer upper? Kidding, kidding, it doesn't mean either (well, not exactly, anyway).
If you're an astrology buff, you probably know your Sun sign, and how all of its associated traits play into your personality. You might also know a bit about your sign’s natural element, be it earth, fire, water, or air. But you might not know that your sign falls under one of three different modalities of signs, too.
The modalities each come with their own set of so-called "qualities" in astrology, and which one you are depends on where your sign falls in the cycle of the seasons. Each modality category—cardinal, mutable, and fixed—contains four sun signs, one of each element. If you’re a Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, or Aquarius, you’re a fixed sign. Seasonally speaking, this means you were born in the middle of spring, summer, fall, or winter. Easy enough, right?
But there’s more to know when it comes to being a fixed sign. Ahead, here’s what the modality category really means, and what it can reveal about your personality.
What exactly does it mean to be a fixed sign?
“A fixed sign is the center of a season,” says Jessica Lanyadoo, humanistic astrologer and author of Astrology for Real Relationships. Taurus claims spring, Leo summer, Scorpio fall, and last but not least, Aquarius holds down winter. When you think about it, this makes so much sense: After all, name a Leo in your life who doesn’t have beach babe vibes. And if Halloween were a person, they’d totally be Scorpio.
Curious about the other modalities? The cardinal signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn— all kick off their respective seasons, and mutable signs—Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces—rule transitory periods throughout the year.
Okay, so now you understand the *literal* definition of what it means to be a fixed sign, but how does that affect your personality and the way you live your life?
Well, just like you’re fixed in the middle of a season, “fixed sign people like to do things the way they like to do them,” explains Lanyadoo. “They're pretty fixed in how they approach things, and how they feel about things.”
Sometimes, the fixed signs can come across as a little intimidating to the other modalities in the zodiac. “Fixed sign people have a certain kind of intensity that’s intrinsic to their nature,” Lanyadoo notes. But this intensity is not a bad thing. It’s part of why the fixed signs are so great, and why you need people from all three modalities in your life—even if communicating with them isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
“Friction is what you need for chemistry to exist. We all have chemistry with our friends, with our creative partners, as well as the people we have sex with or fall in love with,” Lanyadoo says.
While fixed signs are the most resolute of the zodiac, cardinal signs are “really good at starting something new,” says Lanyadoo. And because mutable signs represent transition, they’re the best at handling change. “In fact, being adaptable and open to things shifting is classic of their energies,” Lanyadoo adds.
Each of the modalities also comes with their own flaws, too. Fixed signs can be stubborn, cardinal signs can get just a tad too much into their feels, and mutable signs can be unreliable. That being said, your modality is just one of the many aspects of your birth chart that make you the wonderful, complex person you are.
What are the common traits of a fixed sign?
Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into making you, well, you than just one aspect of your astrological chart. But if you’re a fixed sign, chances are you’ll relate to the following.
1. You’re a creature of habit.
“When you find what you want, and you’re comfortable with it, you’re not willing to change or don’t want to change,” says Donna Page, a certified astrologer in Atlanta. So, don't be too surprised if you're just now noticing that you always eat the same breakfast every day (guilty), love rewatching your favorite TV show (Friends binge, anyone?), or never change your route to work (hey, at least you're not late!).
2. You’re sure of yourself.
Fixed signs basically live by the motto: “What's meant for you will never miss you.” When they hone in on a desire or aspiration, a fixed sign believes in themselves enough to keep trying, even if they fail the first (few) times, says Page. That self-reliance can pay off big time in certain areas of your life that require patience and effort, like your career and fitness goals. Ditto with your relationships—you believe in your partner and their abilities, even when they don't. Who wouldn’t want to be with someone like that?
3. You have trouble letting things go.
“Fixed signs are steadfast and persistent,” says Lanyadoo. Those are stellar qualities, don't get me wrong, but they also mean you can hold onto things too long, according to Page. You might have some serious hoarding tendencies and can even stay in a relationship way past its expiration date because you want to make it work, even when someone so doesn’t deserve you.
4. You’re a natural-born leader.
In all aspects of life, fixed signs are “willing and able to do the work,” says Lanyadoo. This can come through in your day-to-day movements, or how you operate in relationships. It can also be a huge plus when it comes to your career. “If I'm running a company and I want people to close deals, I want to hire fixed signs,” says Lanyadoo.
What are the differences between the fixed signs?
The fixed signs have a lot in common and will likely understand how each other operate with ease, but they're exactly the same. Here’s where each sign differs:
Taurus can be stubborn.
Taurus can get very stuck in their ways, confident that they know best. (A classic fixed sign trait.) “They know they want to be safe; they know that they want to be secure; and they can get fixated on things jeopardizing those feelings,” says Lanyadoo.
Aquarians are the humanitarians and revolutionaries of the zodiac.
Aquarians tend to be the most creative out of the bunch. “Aquarius is a zodiac sign that is air and all about innovation and exploration,” Lanyadoo notes. “They don't want to be pinned down. They’re ruled by freedom, not by stability.”
Leos love to be the center of attention.
It’s simple: “Leo is guided by the sun, and the sun is the center of all things,” says Lanyadoo. “When it comes to Leos, they really want to be an active part of things or to feel like they're perceived as a meaningful part of things.”
Scorpios are deeply emotional.
A water sign through and through, Scorpio is the most emotional of the fixed signs. “They require a great deal of privacy,” says Lanyadoo. “They're very protective of their emotions. They're intense; they have a penetrating focus that comes up for them mentally or emotionally. They can be intimidating to other people.”
What else should you know about being a fixed sign?
Some advice for fixed signs: It’s totally okay to like things a certain way, but that can end up holding you back in the long run. That’s why it’s so important for you to push yourself out of your comfort zone now and then, even if it’s as simple as ordering something different at Starbucks. “There could be more out there,” Page says.
Ultimately, being a fixed sign isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing! It’s just one star in the shining, shimmering constellation of you.
Aliza Pelto (she/her) is a rurally raised, NYC-based writer, Gemini, and iced coffee enthusiast. Her work has appeared with The National Organization for Women, Alma, and both in print and online at BUST Magazine. When she’s not reading, recording her podcast (Little Sleep//Much Reading), or doing something witchy, you can find her dissociating via TikTok for hours on end.