"Love dies only when growth stops."
Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck: Mother, Writer + Activist
This case study/travelogue pulls together a variety of topics that I'm deeply passionate about - motherhood, astrology, writing and local travel. With an open heart, I'd love to be your tour guide as we explore Pearl S. Buck from a new perspective.
"All things are possible until they are proved impossible - and even the impossible may only be so, as of now."
Pearl S. Buck
As part of my astrology coursework, I've been studying "mystery" birth charts. A birth chart is a unique image of the sky at the moment of, you guessed it, birth. The mystery part is what makes it more fun and challenging - you don't know anything about the person until AFTER you interpret the chart.
Trained astrologers translate the symbols in the chart (placement of planets, proximity and relationship of planets, etc.) into tools and awareness that we can personally use. These symbols can speak about our strengths, skills, obstacles and tendencies as well as themes of our individual lives.
My tutor and mentor, Michelle, has made this mystery chart work fun and intriguing. Along with the mystery chart studies, Michelle sends monthly NewMoonsletters exploring a life and chart related to that particular new moon cycle. When the chart was Pearl S. Buck's, I was captivated, as you may be too. (Chart image and interpretations below.)
The main reason this was so exciting is that Michelle, who lives in Europe, was sharing about woman who's historic home is less than a 40 minute drive from my home and has been on my list to explore.
It was time.
1. For this case study, I generated the birth chart of Pearl S. Buck and spent some time with it. I outlined what kind of woman I thought she might be, pondered how the symbols relate to the plot of her life and the kinds of things she may have been passionate about. My notes on my birth chart delineations PRIOR to touring her home are below.
Of course, this was not a "mystery" chart as it is common knowledge that Pearl S. Buck was the recipient of both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, but I did not have much more details about her life than that.
2. I happily packed up snacks, borrowed the visitor's pass from my local library (check your library for all sorts of museum passes!) and hit the road for her Dublin, Pennsylvania home.
3. I toured the home and garden with an experienced guide learning more about the woman, her life and her accomplishments and took copious notes and mental comparisons or my initial findings.
Below is the astrological account of my local travel adventure.
"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."
Pearl S. Buck
Below is Pearl S. Buck's birth chart.
Source: astro-seek.com database. Birth data: June 26, 1892, 12:30am, Hillsboro, West Virginia
My initial findings, prior to my visit, were the following (I did not edit these, you'll see in the "Tour Notes, Facts of Her Life" section below what lined up and what did not):
With her Sun in the 4th house of Cancer, I imagine that her life plot/path are related to a deep, rich root system, like a mature tree.
With the Sun conjunct the IC and the moon copresent as the host, family life, the idea of home and having a rich home life are going to be central.
From the inner sanctuary of home, the world can be pondered.
Perhaps Pearl was deeply private about certain things - maybe things that had to do with the women in her life - as a way to protect the sacredness of home.
Maybe home and/or inner life were playgrounds - places fun could and was had (with Sun ruling the 5th house of creativity/fun/children). Creativity stemmed from having deep inner roots and a strong family foundation.
With Mercury and Venus copresent in the 4th house as well, she was someone who communicated in a beautiful and harmonious way. (She was a writer, so that was a low-hanging fruit, hehe.)
Mercury, the planet of communication, mental agility and curiosity, ruled her 3rd house of communication, local affairs and storytelling as well as the 6th house - this may have shown up as being a writer and communication about everyday difficulties/advocacy for others with difficulty.
Venus, the planet of harmony, unity and love ruled her both her finance and marriage houses (2 +7). I saw this as the possibility that she earned through marriage partner or vice versa.
Because Venus, the benefic in sect, was retrograde here, I wondered if this showed up as delayed support - either with finances, partnership (maybe finding true love later in life) or even family life as Venus is in the 4th house. I further wondered if a strongly dignified moon mitigated this.
Venus retrograde ruling the 7th and sextile Saturn in the 6th - perhaps this later in life true love is met through work?
With such a strongly dignified Moon, at home in the sign of Cancer, I immediately thought this may reveal itself as a strong family foundation, access to resources, lots of women supporting her.
I later realized that PEARL was the foundation, the resource and the strong woman supporting others. It was a good reminder that the symbols can speak through a sliding scale and show up in various ways.
With Jupiter in the first and Aries Rising as the ascendant, I wondered if Pearl was very fiery but in a gentle way with that Cancer stellium at her roots.
Visible. Noticed in a big way. Beautiful. Great smile. Illuminating.
A leader in groups as Mars, the ruler of Aries, is in the 11th/Aquarius. I imagined Pearl was a natural leader who enjoyed bringing people together for the greater good (Mars in 11th/Aquarius ruling the 1st).
With the Cancer stellium in the 4th, I imagine we'd find someone deeply emotive. Possibly an empath and or psychic.
Perhaps she had a deep inner landscape and embraced shadow sides of herself (12th house) and death/afterlife (8th house) with such a strong water signature in her chart.
This made me wonder too if she loved others lots but felt drained when giving too much OR perhaps she understood boundaries with the Aries Rising. (Stood out to me as a Cancer Sun who has issues with boundaries!).
Pearl's chart shows that a genuine illumination emanated from the depths of her. You could feel her fiery, nurturing glow from a distance.
With Saturn in the 6th/Virgo (home of Mercury/children), we may find an advocate who communicated and worked hard for a long duration for others (Saturn - takes time). Someone who was serious about work and worked really hard. And that work involved communication (Mercury rules 6th) and groups (Saturn rules both 11th/groups and 10th/work in the world).
I couldn't help but wonder if Pearl loved plants, particularly ones with strong roots? With her water sign stellium, might I learn she had a love of streams in forests? Was her house painted a dark green?
I was off to find out that and much, much more.
TOUR NOTES, THE FACTS OF HER LIFE
Arrival at the Pearl S. Buck house in bucolic Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is a sort of whole body exhale. The long winding drive surrounded by nature, mature trees, meadows and unmatched beauty takes your breath away.
Passing her gravesite on the left, visitors continue down the path to the Visitor's Center and home of Pearl S. Buck International offices. Outside of the front door, I'm greeted with a cart housing succulents of various sizes, many of which are only $1. "Yes, please," I excitedly whisper. I immediately love the place.
I learned A LOT on the tour. Here are the highlights.
Pearl's Youth and Passion
Pearl was the daughter of missionaries and at the age of 3 months old, moved to China and grew up there. She grew up feeling like an outsider and felt like an outsider again when she returned to the U.S. to enroll in college because by then she'd lived her life abroad.
We can see in Pearl's birth chart that Jupiter in the 1st house of identity rules the 9th house of foreign travel. Growing up as a non-native informed much of her writing and activist work later in life.
I inquired about her religious beliefs after seeing gifts from the Dalai Lama, Buddhist statues and books on reincarnation. My guide explained that Pearl rejected her parent's religious beliefs. I saw this also through Jupiter in the 1st ruling the 9th (higher thought, philosophy) - Pearl finding her own way and her own belief system.
As the author of 100 novels and 20 children's books, Pearl's writing was informed by her life as she experienced it abroad. She also explored topics of children, family and divorce, among others. Pearl's love of children ignited her passion for activism in adoption.
"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."
Pearl S. Buck
I took the "Life and Legacy Tour" but there is an "Taking Action" tour as well which ends at a wall of cards each guest can choose from to bring activist intentions to life.
The writing piece is again, a low-hanging fruit. We see her strong communicative skills through a Mercury that is part of a powerful stellium in the sign of Cancer, and also ruling the 6th house (advocacy for others) and 3rd house (communication, storytelling).
The SUN/Life Plot
I saw in Pearl's birth chart that central to her life would be the inner sanctuary of home from where the world could be pondered. Indeed it was.
Peal's illuminating presence could still be felt, not only inside of her historic home, but across the gardens and even from the entrance.
Her home housed over 8,000 books (Jupiter rules the 9th from 1st!), two greenhouses (Pearl did indeed love plants and streams and gardening!) and two of her actual typewriters (one that she bought used and actually wrote The Good Earth with).
She was so into gardening that when this painting of her was created, she was unhappy with her hands because they were not that delicate as an avid gardener. That made me laugh out loud. (This is my photo from the museum.)
The grounds boasted many deep rooted trees and plants, some of which were actual beds Pearl tended to. A beautiful stream runs across the front of the house and can be seen from the upstairs windows. I did not find dark green walls but I did find lush gardens.
It was in her second marriage that Pearl found her "true love" and she met her love through work as he was her publisher, Richard J. Walsh. (Venus retrograde ruling 7th sextile Saturn in 6th). Pearl was the breadwinner for the family (Venus ruling both 2nd house of finances and 7th house of marriage).
In the dining room there is a long wooden bench - the exact bench that Pearl sat on when she waited for her first appointment with her publisher who later became her husband.
The family also had a wooden table from the publishing office in the kitchen - but they rounded out the square corners to make it more kid-friendly - as mothering was central to Pearl's life which we'll soon see.
"The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration."
Pearl S. Buck
Even though Pearl was the recipient of both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, after learning more about her life, I see mothering as central to her being. She kept the Nobel and Pulitzer in a drawer after all, but she installed a sink and microwave outside the nursery to bathe and tend to infants that were delivered in the middle of the night. This was so that she could care for them easily and not disturb anyone else who was sleeping.
Her nurturing instincts were prominent (Cancer stellium, born under a new moon). Pearl's passion for caring for children seemed to be the deep root system and forest spring that ran under the surface of her being. She had an ability to dig deep, nurture and see all children as if they were her own.
Pearl had one biological child and adopted seven children. She started her own adoption agency, Welcome House, which placed 7,000 children with families (Saturn in 6th/Virgo).
I was surprised to learn that Pearl was reserved and quiet and did not have many friends but then we can see it so clearly with Jupiter ruling her 1st again (her passion for those 9th house topics took up much of her life) along with her nurturing/mothering and advocacy.
There were no clocks in either of her two home libraries. My tour guide shared that it was because Pearl said, "You do not put a time on reading." I suppose that's how you read 8,000 books!
She was a regimented person and wrote daily from 8am - 1pm, making herself available to the children later in the day (Saturn in Virgo/6th ruling 10th).
I can't end this without exploring what a pearl actually is. A pearl is a rare gemstone, synonymous with beauty and grace. How appropriate that this woman be named so.
There are many ways to be human. Exploring how people have chosen to express themselves and bring their passions to life shows us how diverse and beautiful this world is.
"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday."
Pearl S. Buck
Travel, whether local, through time or books, can transport us and expand our view.
To explore your own personal birth chart in this way, learn more here.