It looks like an interesting week of planetary activity ahead. Retrograde Mercury stops in to visit two old friends this week—The Sun and Venus--as it moves backwards through the Zodiac. Mercury and the Sun will be exactly conjunct on Thursday October 16th at 1:40pm PDT, at 0 degrees Libra in the sidereal zodiac. Chitra (the beautiful) Nakshatra spans the heavens from 23 degrees Virgo to 7 degrees Libra. Mercury and the Sun come together just as Mercury is moving back into Virgo and the Sun is moving forward into Libra. In Vedic astrology when a planet comes very close to the Sun it is called combust. The heat and brilliance of the Sun has temporarily overpowered the planet and obscured it from our view here on Earth. Typically, a combust planet is not considered to be at its best, but there are certain mitigating factors. In the current instance the Sun is moving into Libra, where it is debilitated and weakened, and Mercury gains strength as it passes into Virgo, which it rules. 30 degrees Virgo/0 degrees Libra is the exact midpoint of the sidereal zodiac and Chitra is the 14th of the 27 nakshatras— right in the middle. The number 14 is related to the “Temperance” card of the tarot, symbolized by a winged angel mixing two heavenly fluids with one foot in water and one on land. The Temperance card represents balance, as does the sign Libra. Chitra is one of the few nakshatras to be represented by a single star, Spica, a first magnitude star at the tail end of Virgo. Spica is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is considered to be the home of Vishwakarman, the “Divine Architect”, who is also the ruling deity of this nakshatra. Vishwakarman is the master of Maya and can fashion unbelievably beautiful and interesting architecture when bidden by the gods to do so. It was Vishwakarman that built Ravanna’s fabled city of Lanka at Indra’s request, and later constructed the Palace of Illusions in Indraprastha at Krishna’s request for the five Pandava brothers. Vishwakarman has prodigious talent, but he is also a very hard worker. The quality associated with Chitra is called “punya chayani shakti”, the power to accumulate merit. The symbol associated with Chitra is a pearl, representing the soul. In order to get the pearl we need to open the hard shell that surrounds it. Mars, the ruling planet of Chitra, provides us with some energy for Vishwakarman’s job of chipping away the unnecessary pieces that obscure the pearl. Vishwakarman’s daughter, Sanja, married the Sun but was unable to withstand his brilliance until her father clipped the wings of her husband. With the coming Mercury/Sun conjunction perhaps we can get Vishwakarman to clip his son-in-law’s wings so he won’t overpower Buddha’s (Mercury’s) brilliant intellect. When a planet is exactly conjunct the Sun it said to be in “Cazimi” (in the heart of). This is potentially a time that lends itself to an enchanted state in which the meaning of the planet becomes inseparable from our soul. Unfortunately, this is a fairly brief affair—on Thursday it will be in effect roughly from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset. On the following day, Friday October 17th, Mercury will rendezvous with Venus at 29 degrees Virgo at 10:56am PDT. Both planets are strong in Chitra, but Mercury gets the edge in Virgo because Venus is debilitated here, so the intellect should temporarily hold sway over the heart (Venus). Not to worry though, because this weekend Venus will enter Libra—the sign it rules-- where it will hook up with the Sun on October 25th. As Vishwakarman continues to chisel away, I predict that sparks will fly.