1970 was a pivotal year for the Carpenters. A study of that year’s astrological cycles will shed some light on important facets of Karen’s chart, which later, as you’ll see, resonate with points in the chart of Michelle Berting Brett. Three songs did extremely well in 1970, propelling the Carpenters to fame. In July 1970, (They Long To Be) Close To You ranked #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. We’ve Only Just Begun made it to #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening in October and #2 on the Hot 100. A couple months later, Merry Christmas Darling was a hit on the seasonal music chart.
Throughout 1970, transiting Uranus and Chiron were activating Karen’s Nodal Axis and her natal Mars — the latter being ruler of both 10th house of career and 5th house of creativity. Transits to the Nodal Axis typically see a shift in the relationships in our life, so no doubt Karen Carpenter had a busy year of meeting new, influential people, while at the same time letting go of relationships that were no longer supportive.
For the second half of 1970, when the three songs became so popular, transiting Saturn squared Karen’s natal 2nd-8th oppositions. In fact, the very weekend that Close To You hit #1, Saturn reached 21° Taurus, exactly squaring Karen’s Mercury of 21° Aquarius. To boot, transiting Mercury (something we often ignore) happened to be at 21° Leo, exactly opposite her natal Mercury. This was the weekend, astrologically, when Karen’s voice (Mercury) would become celebrated.
Here is an example the more positive side of Saturn — offering a reward for hard work. But we often think of transiting Saturn bringing challenges and tests. Without knowing the private side of her life, I wonder if this time did bring some hardship. Did this sudden popularity, in fact, come as a great burden?
There were two eclipses in August of 1970, just as the Carpenters became popular nationwide and beyond. The lunar eclipse mid-month was just two degrees from Karen’s Mercury at 21° Aquarius. (Mercury=voice, Aquarius=radio) The solar eclipse at the end of the month just a degree-and-a-half from her Midheaven — the chart’s point of most public acclaim. Eclipses are known to propel us forward, and the timing of these certainly aligned with Karen Carpenter’s rise to fame.
Karen’s Secondary Progressions for 1970 show some interesting chart triggers, too. Progressions for Saturday, July 25, 1970, the day Close To You hit #1, show the progressed Ascendant at 16° of Cancer, in sextile to natal Saturn in the 3rd (communication, words), and to the degree and minute squaring Karen’s natal Neptune. Something about her presentation (p.Asc) seemed ideal (Neptune) to the world. Also, Neptune is one of the rulers of Karen’s MC, so something very significant to her career was happening.
Karen’s p.Sun at 1° Aries was newly in the 10th house of career, opposing p.Mars and squaring natal Uranus. This was certainly a year for sudden advancements in her work! Progressed Venus made it to 17° Aquarius in 1970, activating the natal Leo-Aquarius oppositions, especially the natal Moon. This would be the start of some significant artistic accomplishments. The p.Moon was at 20° Taurus, squaring natal Jupiter, co-ruler of Karen’s MC. And p.Mercury (voice, communication) in Pisces (music) was conjunct the p.Midheaven. On an inner level, Karen was ready to share her message with the world.
Solar Arc Directions show 1970 as a significant year as well. The SA.Ascendant at 20° Cancer and SA.Uranus at 21° Cancer quincunx natal Jupiter and Mercury. Karen may have experienced this as a year of making adjustments to herself according to what she perceived was pubic opinion. SA.Pluto was conjunct the IC, suggesting a deep and powerful change in home and family, and also perhaps changes on some psychological level.
SA.Mercury and SA.Jupiter would each, in turn, make conjunctions to her natal Sun. Her creative potential and sense of purpose would surely be heightened. Her musicianship — the skill itself — would be noticed first. Again, not knowing the details, I wonder if SA.Jupiter in Pisces brought with it some shifts on a spiritual level. Was Karen’s belief system altered in 1970? Jupiter can often bring abundance, so the timing of this aspect might simply reflect an improvement in financial status. In any case, Jupiter, as ruler of the Midheaven, certainly puts Karen in the public eye for the year.
To summarize, it seems these are very significant and sensitive degrees in Karen’s chart:
- The Ascendant-Uranus conjunction at 0° Cancer.
- Saturn at 16° Virgo. This, by the way, was the degree of the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions of the 1960s. We could surmise that there was something about Karen’s self-expression (SA rules 5th) through words (SA in 3rd) that spoke on behalf of an entire generation of people.
- The Leo-Aquarius planets, especially Moon at 18° Leo, Jupiter at 20° Aquarius, and Mercury at 21° Aquarius.
- MC at 6° Pisces, IC at 6° Virgo.
- The 1970 progressed Ascendant of 16° Cancer.
Keep this list handy, because in Part 3, we’ll have a look at Michelle Berting Brett’s chart. The similarities are striking!