Karen Carpenter’s horoscope

Karen Carpenter’s horoscope is fascinating.

The Carpenters were a hugely successful pop duo in the 1970s and early 1980s. They sold more than 100 million singles and albums.

One half of The Carpenters brother-sister duo was Karen Carpenter, pictured below.

Karen’s warm and beautiful voice was a distinctive hallmark of the ‘Carpenters sound.’ Tragically, Karen died aged of 32 on February 4th, 1983. The cause of death were medical complications related to her anorexia, an illness she had been struggling with since the late 1970s.

There are many theories about how and why Karen developed anorexia.  Some suggest it was due to a dominating and controlling mother (and brother?) who never allowed Karen to ‘grow up,’ feel loved, and be an independent adult.

Another possibility might have been her solo album (produced by Phil Ramone), separate from The Carpenters. It was never released during her lifetime, after it was rejected and shelved by her record company in 1980.

And then there was her marriage in August 1981 that lasted less than a year. And the anorexia might be due to Karen’s need to have ‘control’ of something (such as her body and eating habits) in her life, which was tightly controlled by others.

Whatever the truth, I thought it would be interesting to take an astrological look at Karen’s life, starting with her natal horoscope, and then examining some key life events from an astrological perspective. For this post, my reference for dates etc is Randy L. Schmidt’s unauthorised biography of Karen, Little Girl Blue (Amazon link).

Astrodatabank.com, has accurate birth data (giving it their ‘AA’ rating) for Karen. She was born on March 2nd, 1950, in New Haven, Connecticut at 11:45am. Below is her horoscope, based on this birth data.

Karen Carpenter's horoscope diagram. Karen was born on March 2nd, 1950 at 11:45am, in New Haven, Connecticut.

Karen Carpenter’s horoscope. Karen was born on March 2nd, 1950 at 11:45am, in New Haven, Connecticut.

There are two prominent features of Karen Carpenter’s horoscope.
Firstly, a Moon-Pluto conjunction in the Leo 3rd House (blue oval) opposite (pink arrow) a Mercury-Jupiter conjunction in the Aquarius 9th House (red oval).
Secondly, Uranus is conjunct her Ascendant (left-hand side of the horoscope) at 00° of Cancer.

The Moon-Pluto conjunction in Leo indicates Karen’s powerful (Pluto) emotions (Moon); likely to express in a dramatic and fiery manner (Leo). On the other hand it also indicates considerable emotional ‘warmth.’

Connected to the Moon-Pluto by opposition aspect is the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction, which is about communication (Mercury) and expansiveness (Jupiter). In the context of Karen’s life and career, this correlates with her singing (Mercury) to a wide audience (Jupiter). And although she had a very quiet singing voice, with a microphone and amplification (Jupiter) the world was able to hear the warmth and power of her voice (opposite Moon-Pluto).

Uranus on the Ascendant denotes a certain unusualness or quirkiness in how Karen appears to the world. In the 1970s it was considered unusual for a female to play the drums, as Karen did. Uranus here also indicates a propensity to sudden changes in her appearance, her environment and life circumstances.

Karen’s Pisces Sun is prominently located in the 10th House of career, denoting that career was important to her, and that it would be an area of life where she could ‘shine.’

THE FIRST RECORD CONTRACT

After a few false starts, fledgling musicians Karen and brother Richard — aka The Carpenters — signed a contract with A&M Records on April 22nd, 1969. This was a very significant moment in their career, as The Carpenters would be with A&M throughout the 1970s and become one of that label’s most successful recording artists. It is also a very significant moment astrologically, as shown below (blue oval).

Horoscope diagram - The Carpenters sign to A&M Records, April 22nd, 1969.

The Carpenters sign to A&M Records, April 22nd, 1969. In all these diagrams, the inner circle (green) is Karen’s natal horoscope. The middle circle shows her Solar Arc Directed points for the date specified. The outer circle shows transits The diagram is what’s called a ’90 degree dial’ – which shows SAD and transiting hard aspects particularly clearly.

In the blue oval above are two things: Solar Arc Directed (SAD) Sun aspecting her natal Ascendant-Uranus conjunction, and transiting Uranus (in the outer light-blue circle) aspecting the same point. Karen’s 10th House Sun rules the Leo 3rd House, the House of siblings. So this is about a sudden change (Uranus) in career status and identity (Sun) that will be visible to all (Ascendant-Uranus). This is a very Uranian moment, when everything changes.

THE FIRST SINGLE – ‘(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU’

The Carpenters released an album (Offering, later renamed Ticket to Ride) with A&M. It didn’t sell well, so they set their sights on releasing a new single. That single was (They Long to Be) Close to You 

Within a few months of release, it had climbed to No. 1 in the Billboard U.S. pop charts, where it stayed for four weeks around July of 1970. It was the 2nd biggest selling single of the year in the United States, according to Billboard magazine. Karen’s Solar Arc Directions for that month shows this success is another key astrological milestone in her life.

(They Long to Be) Close to You - makes number one in July 1970. Chart is set for July 22nd.

Solar Arc Directions for (They Long to Be) Close to You – while it was at No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in July 1970. Chart is set for July 22nd.

The SAD Mercury-Jupiter — mentioned earlier as relating to singing, is now connected with Karen’s Sun (blue oval, above), her career. We also see SAD Pluto just past her M.C. (red circle), which is the 10th House (of career) cusp. Pluto here brings a time of powerful transformation of her career. Pluto to the M.C. is in the immediate past, and correlates with the work and energy developing The Carpenters ‘sound’ and the energy put into this particular single.

Throughout the early to mid 1970s, the Carpenters continued to have many successful albums and singles. They also toured extensively and made numerous television appearances. But for various reasons their fortunes declined in in the late 1970s. Their record sales dropped-off, and it seemed  they were going out of fashion with the record-buying public.

Richard went into rehab for Quaalude addiction in 1979. Karen began to show signs of obsessive behaviours around eating and body image. She started to look gaunt, due to her dieting habits.

Her anorexia-related issues increased, and on the 27th of March 1979, she called New York psychotherapist Steven Levenkron seeking a consultation. Levenkron had a special interest in working with anorexics.

On the 1st of May 1979 Karen went to New York to work on a solo album with legendary producer Phil Ramone. She wanted to record a more mature, ‘adult’ album, free of the cheesy Carpenters sound and separate from her brother’s influence. She also arranged to meet regularly with Levenkron.

The solo album was finished by January 1980, and Karen returned home to California, confident that her record company A&M would like it and schedule it’s release. She also thought herself ‘cured’ of anorexia, despite reservations from Levenkron and possible continued use of laxatives and/or emetics to control weight.

Diagram of Solar Arc Directions for Karen Carpenter, January 15th 1980.

Solar Arc Directions for Karen Carpenter, January 15th 1980 – rejection of her solo album by A&M.

Back in California, her solo album was played to A&M executives and her brother. The didn’t like it. It was shelved, and not publicly released until the 1990s. Karen was devastated.

The above Solar Arc Directions, for mid-January 1980, tell the story. SAD Neptune to natal Pluto (red oval) – a shattering of the vision, and SAD Pluto to natal Saturn – a powerful (Pluto) disruption of relationships (Saturn rules her 7th House of relationship) and the structures in her life.

MEETING AND MARRYING TOM BURRIS

Karen had always wanted to get married and have children. On the 12th of April 1980, she believed she’d met ‘the one’, although friends were cautious.

According to Schmidt’s biography, on that day in April Karen was introduced to ‘real-estate developer’ Thomas James Burris. He was a larger-than-life character – charming, smooth, seemingly generous. But to some of Karen’s friends, ‘too good to be true.’ Some thought him arrogant and suspected his his real interest in Karen was not emotional, but financial. But Karen was smitten. She was keen to marry and start a family. She thought Burris felt the same.

Burris proposed on June 16th. She accepted. Their lavish wedding was set for August 31st, 1980. There were to be 500 guests and no expense spared. The day before the wedding, Karen wanted to call the whole thing off because on that day Burris revealed something she didn’t know about — he’d had a vasectomy. Karen felt betrayed. It was primarily her mother who convinced Karen that the wedding must proceed.

Diagram of Solar Arc Directions for Karen Carpenter's wedding, August 31st, 1980.

Solar Arc Directions for Karen Carpenter’s wedding, August 31st, 1980.

The Saturnian nature of this day is captured well by SAD Saturn (‘harsh reality’, but also ruler of her 7th House of relationships) which connects to natal Neptune, planet of ideals, wishes and delusions (red oval, above). So just before her wedding day that she got a sense of what her husband was really like – and the illusion or wish (Neptune) was shattered.

The marriage was over within a year. Burris had financial problems. The Rolls-Royce convertible he’d given Karen as an engagement present was repossessed. They were eventually divorced. Burris walked away with $1 million.

The rejection of her solo album and the marriage fiasco probably put considerable psychological pressure on Karen as she headed into 1981. The Carpenters released another album that year (Made in America), but by December Karen realised she was very ill and desperately in need of help.

December 1981 - Karen realises she's seriously unwell

Karen’s Solar Arc Directions for mid-December 1981 – Karen admits she’s seriously unwell.

The above (blue oval) shows SAD Neptune aspecting natal Moon, increasing the Moon’s sensitivity, and perhaps indicating Karen feeling ‘lost at sea’ and without solid foundation or emotional security at this time.

BACK TO NEW YORK

In January 1982 Karen returned to New York. She started seeing Levenkron again. She weighed 78 pounds (35.38 Kg) at her first appointment. She admitted she was taking 80-90 Dulcolax laxatives a day. She was also taking 10 capsules of a thyroid medication (Synthroid) to speed her metabolism, even though her thyroid function was normal. Levenkron confiscated the bottle of this medication. In April 1982 Karen returned to Los Angeles for a few weeks, and recorded a few tracks with Richard. Despite her haggard appearance, she apparently seemed energetic.

Returning to in New York, Levenkron said to Karen, “You are the victim of a disease [i.e. anorexia] and not the designer of a creative way of being special.” In September 1982 Karen reported to Levenkron that “her heart was beating funny,” and that she was upset, anxious and confused. She complained of dizziness to an extent that she was unable to walk.

On September 20th Karen was therefore admitted to hospital for hyperalimentation (feeding via an intravenous drip) to treat severe dehydration.

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Solar Arc Directions etc for September 20th, 1982 – Karen admitted to hospital.

The key feature here (blue oval, above) is the SAD M.C. to natal Mars. Mars is the ruler of Karen’s natal 6th House, the House of illness. The M.C. to this planet indicates that illness (6th House) and career (M.C.) interconnect at this point.

By November, under careful supervision Karen had regained 30 pounds. She was discharged on November 8th and saw Levenkron for the last time on November 16th and returned to Los Angeles. She gave her last public performance on December 17th, 1982.

THE END

On the morning of February 4th, 1983 Karen was found dead. There is no indication it was suicide. It seems to be a combination of very low weight, the long-term side effects of an emetic she had been taking (to induce vomiting). She had been staying with her parents.

The world lost a wonderful voice. Her death raised the profile of anorexia nervosa, creating an impetus to better understand the illness. The Carpenters legacy lives on, in their enduring pop classics which still get regular airplay today.

Astrologically, Solar Arc Directions seem to show a correlation with Karen’s life events that would not be visible using other astrological techniques such as transits and progressions. Whether Solar Arc Directions show ‘fate’, I’m not sure. At the very least, they indicate key markers or milestone’s in our lives, as unfolding of Karen Carpenter’s horoscope illustrates.

Comments

  1. David Harvey says:

    Tom and Karen never divorced, because it was meant to be finalized on the day that she died and that was the reason why she died a married woman.

  2. Thanks for your comment, David.

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