The Evolutionary Path of the Modalities

Culture Bearers, Self-Exploration, In Service to Spirit, Oh My!

by Viola Goodwin

A unique feature of Shamanic Astrology renames and redefines the modalities from Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable to three new categories that help us better understand these archetypes. In Shamanic Astrology refers to the Cardinal signs as Culture-Bearer or Householder, the Fixed signs as Self-Exploration, and the Mutable Signs as In Service to Spirit Signs.

While these renamed categories are still associated with the seasons as in more mainstream astrology,  these categories give insights into the nature of the 12 core archetypal characteristics we each carry, in a nearly infinite array of possible combinations, to better understand ourselves and others.

In general, we’re looking at the progressive parts of our natal chart including the signs of Venus and Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, the Rising Sign, and the Midheaven. It helps to know we are intended to move toward the progressive parts of the chart including the personal planets, Jupiter and the Rising Sign, Midheaven.  These archetypes apply to the Moon as the starting point of our current life trajectory, but is NOT the destination or ultimate intent. When a progressive part of the chart is in the same sign as the Moon, it’s a clear statement that we are here to help evolve the expression of that archetype.

You can get a free natal chart here if you don’t have one.

This table of the modalities shows the element associated with each archetype or sign, whether it’s energetically feminine or masculine, and whether it’s left-brained or right-brained.

Modality Earth
Left Brain
Right Brain
Right Brain
Left Brain
Culture-Bearer or Householder Signs

(aka Cardinal)









Self-Exploration Signs

(aka Fixed)









In Service to Spirit Signs

(aka Mutable)









The 12 Core Shamanic Astrology Archetypes by Modality

The Culture Bearer or Householder Signs

Collectively, the archetypes or signs within this category evolve by living in the world, taking responsibility, and participating in the affairs of family, community, business, organizations, and institutions.

Cancer is the Nurturer. Within the context of the family, Cancer is concerned about the safety and development of the children. A water sign, Cancer is empathic, able to feel the feelings of others. If Cancer is not engaged with children and family, its nurturing intent is directed toward some other type of progeny such as the offspring of animals, seedlings in the garden, or projects that require a personal, nurturing touch to come to fruition.

Capricorn is less personal and more administratively engaged than Cancer. At the level of the family, this is typically the primary breadwinner. Capricorn is more likely to be engaged at the level of the broader community by taking on the responsibilities of administrative leadership. An Earth sign, Capricorn steps up to take on responsibility and provide stable structures for the community as a whole. These are the lawmakers and administrators, business owners and managers, as well as the people who provide tangible results and physical infrastructure such as roads, houses, civic centers, and commercial districts.

Libra is the expert on relationships. Personal, one-on-one relationships are important but well-developed Libra skills also include negotiation and mediation within the family, among community members, and between different communities with the intention of maintaining peace so collaboration is successful. An Air Sign, this is largely an intellectual pursuit in search of equitable and conscious interrelating.

Aries protects the family, the home, the community and causes it deems worthy. A Fire sign, Aries is courageous and intuitive, characteristics that serve – not just as warrior protectors, but in professions such as firefighting, law enforcement, and attending to the sick and wounded in hospital emergency rooms where we find an Aries-like willingness to risk life and limb on behalf of those in their community. Aries also entertains us through competitive sports and athletics and has for millennia. Many of our largest public structures historically and recently are dedicated to this purpose.

Culture Bearers/Householders on Your Natal Chart

Collectively, the Culture Bearers take responsibility for evolving a culture over time. While there is a tendency to get stuck in the way things have been, it’s their calling to move us forward into the future. It requires the ability to recognize what still works and what no longer does and the wisdom to initiate changes so we can make progress.

If you have Culture Bearer signs in a progressive part of your chart, you are here to evolve the way we live our everyday lives so that we might sustain human civilization and the planet. In what capacity you make such a contribution is revealed by the planets or angles in Cancer, Capricorn, Libra, Aries. For more information and a deeper exploration, please consult the Shamanic Astrology Handbook.

Self-Exploration Signs

These signs are collectively on an evolutionary path of self-discovery and increasing their personal life force energy. Unlike the Culture Bearers who are dedicated to serving others, the Self-Exploration signs explore life’s possibilities on their own terms and for their own ends. Nonetheless, if we value their path and accept their intent to take us beyond the boundaries of the work-a-day world as we know it, there is a lot we can learn from them. Each sign provides us with unique opportunities to broaden the scope of what it means to be human.

Aquarius is an air sign seeking the most expanded states of conscious awareness it can achieve, as an end in itself and for its own sake. It also seeks expanded awareness through scientific experimentation, the use of technology, and innovative thinking.  In this way Aquarius serves the Greater Good as the change agent, the revolutionary instigator, and the visionary thinker always urging us forward to greater freedom, higher truth, and universal love. Whether we follow along is up to us and not a particular matter of concern to Aquarius. For Aquarius this is the journey home, a return to cosmic consciousness.

Leo is discovering its own Divinity. Through the process of developing self-confidence, self-respect, and self-acceptance Leo learns to love itself as a holographic portion of the Divine Creator. Self-assured, it steps up as the benevolent, yet willful, visionary leader. A Fire sign, Leo accepts its role as leading player, allowing its charismatic radiance and charm to inspire our own self-expression simply by being in our midst. Apart from Gemini, Leo is the archetype most dedicated to having fun.

Taurus is exploring deeply pleasurable physical intimacy and appreciation of the beauty there is to savor in our surroundings as they exist and as we create them for ourselves. Taurus knows how to fuel the body with life force energy and teaches us to stay present in the moment to sensory experiences. Taurus also teaches us how to optimize pleasure by being present to and clearly communicating personal preferences regarding intensity, duration, and purity. Purity in this context refers to the pleasure-pain continuum – consciously choosing exactly the sweet spot that provides maximum pleasure without pain.

Scorpio explores itself by engaging with its own personal power, its own  life force energy, in passionate, often orgasmic ways.  Scorpio’s objective is to develop its own will in alignment with Divine will, for its own use and benefit. The Feminine Mysteries, long suppressed, and Shamanism, are both experiencing a resurgence as Scorpio, a water sign, reclaims the power of truly feeling its own feelings. Scorpio teaches us to courageously engage our stuck feelings and recurrent emotions by tapping into them, transmuting them, and using the locked up energy for self-renewal, self-regeneration, and transformation.

Self-Exploration Archetypes on Your Natal Chart

Collectively, the Self-Exploration signs are self-reliant, determined, stable, and persistent on their journey of self-discovery.  They can focus on the matter at hand to its completion, especially when they expect to benefit from the outcome.

If you have Self-Exploration signs in progressive parts of your chart, you are here to show us the way of the fully developed human being through expanded consciousness, radiant self-love and visionary leadership, full-on experience of the principles of bodily pleasure and sensation, and through deep-diving into the realm of feelings and mastering the use of life force energy. In what capacity you make such a contribution is revealed by the planets or angles you have in Self-Exploration signs. For more information and a more thorough explanation, please consult the Shamanic Astrology Handbook.

In Service to Spirit Signs

These signs explore the process of evolution as an unfolding of the divine plan, each in its own unique way.

Gemini serves Spirit by shifting the energy and awareness through playfulness, storytelling, magical displays, and humorous antics. An Air sign, Gemini masters the rules of the analytical, logical mind and then goes beyond the confines of rationality to demonstrate to us, in entertaining ways, the misconceptions we have about the nature of our reality. Like Aquarius, Gemini places a high value on freedom and like Leo, having fun is a top priority. Gemini shows us what it’s like to be connected to the creative muse.

Sagittarius serves Spirit through the quest for truth, meaning and enlightenment. Adventurous and bold, honest and straightforward, Sagittarius does whatever it can to get at the truth, to understand its purpose and life’s meaning. A Fire sign, with outward flowing energy, when healthy Sagittarius shares what it learns and helps us shift away from dogmatic, limiting beliefs so we can experience our own truth and find our own meaning and purpose.

Pisces serves Spirit by helping others through heart to heart connection using empathy and compassion. A Water Sign, Pisces is able to connect with anyone and also has the capacity to connect universally with the felt experience of the collective and with Divinity itself. Pisces teaches us that being in service to any and all sentient beings is deeply rewarding as an end in itself.

Virgo honors all life as sacred and serves Spirit by dedicating itself to a sacred function. An Earth sign, Virgo doesn’t connect personally with others but rather focuses on its sacred work or calling, serving  the collective and the Earth. Virgo teaches us to observe the rhythms and the patterns of the seasons and of our lives and to offer ceremony in their observance. Virgo teaches us to devote at least some of our attention to achieving balance and harmony, especially in times of turbulent change.

In Service to Spirit Signs on Your Natal Chart

Collectively, the In Service to Spirit signs are adaptable and versatile. They help us expand our perception beyond the ordinary, encouraging us to be mindful of the suffering of others, and demonstrating our ability to help, heal and restore balance, especially in radically changing times.

If you have In Spirit to Service signs in progressive parts of your chart, you are here to help us find the truth of our times, provide some relief from our despair, contribute to collective healing, and help us restore balance and harmony. In what capacity you make such a contribution is revealed by the planets or angles in the In Service to Spirit signs. For more information and a more thorough explanation, please consult the Shamanic Astrology Handbook.

When the 12 core archetypal expressions or signs of Shamanic Astrology are combined in a natal chart they provide insight into the uniqueness of each person and each person’s journey.

Hopefully, seeing the signs through the lens of the modalities as redefined by the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm™ provides some fresh insights and understanding of your own life path and others around you.

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