Marta Mishnagel was a fisher-woman. It had not been easy to overcome the prejudice of her parents and the other villagers, who did not consider fishing to be woman's work. But it had been a struggle she had to win, for Marta had been born with the ocean calling her name, and from before she could remember, the fishes and creatures of the sea had sung to her and told her strange and wonderful tales of their lives below the waves. So fishing was not a job to her, it was a calling, as deep and pure as any call to priesthood or service. In some ways, to say she was a fisher-woman was a misnomer, for Marta did not really fish, so much as go to sea and tell her friends what was needed (who was hungry or in need) and because they loved her -- and she them -- fish would joyously leap into her nets until she had just enough. She, for her part, would sing sweet songs to them and tell them tales of the wondrous mysteries of land life, just as they told her of the sea.
Things went on like this until the whale appeared. It stayed a short distance from her boat, never speaking, but always watching and listening. The whale was large, even as whales go, and Marta knew (how she wasn't sure), that this whale was old, very very old, as old as time, even, for she was the Great Mother who had swum the sea since time began. Marta was deeply honored by her presence. She was also more than a little uneasy, for she knew that the Great One did not pay casual calls, and she knew too, from somewhere in her soul, that her destiny was connected to the Great Whale. It was just that she didn't know how and the whale was so big and so primal and all-knowing, and she, Marta was so small and insignificant. It must be her imagination that the Great Mother could want her. And she sighed with sorrow at her unworthiness, and with longing to connect to that great, powerful darkness. Each day she sighed so, and each day sailed a little closer, thinking -- perhaps at least I can touch her, hoping also that the whale would speak and tell her what to do. When finally the day came that she was close enough to touch the great whale's side, tentatively, for just an instant, she "heard" (felt, really) the great deep voice say gently:
"No, Marta, it is not enough to simply touch me. You must enter inside."
"Oh, no," cried Marta, deeply shaken.
"I feel your power and I see your beauty and I am so drawn to you, but I don't want to die."
"Who will not die, cannot live," sighed the Great One. "That is the law of the Universe."
"I am too afraid," cried Marta, and sailed away, only to return the next day, and the next, and be told again, each time: "It is not enough to simply touch me. You must enter inside."
After a time, the Great Whale spoke again and said: "Marta, you cannot escape the law of the Universe. One way or another, you must enter in. You may enter of your own free will, or I will swallow you, but enter you must. It is your destiny. It is not a question of whether, but how. Enter, child, it is time." And saying this, the whale opened her vast mouth. Marta, trembling, eyes closed, leaped over the side of her little boat and dove deep into the dark maw of the great beast, fully expecting to die. But of course she didn't. Instead, she heard a voice say sweetly: "Open your eyes, child. Look around. Explore. In that corner is magic. Over there, the timeless void of Time. Beyond that, the fountain of inspiration and creativity. Over there, the garden of eternity and the hall of past lives. And in the center, at the core, if you touch my heart and feel its beating, you will touch Great Mystery itself." And Marta did just that. And she was never the same again.