By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
The first thing you'll notice about Phyllis Galde when she comes to the door of her Lakeville split-level is her T-shirt. "UFOs are real," it reads. "The Air Force doesn't exist." Beneath this koan is a picture of a flying saucer. At first, you might suspect that the shirt is a cute novelty. It's not. Galde is a believer.
A 57-year-old grandmother with a pronounced Midwestern drawl and an endearing habit of using heck as an invective, Galde looks less like a committed student of supernatural phenomena than she does a school teacher or church organist--both of which she once was. Nor does her home, at the terminus of a suburban cul-de-sac, show any outward signs of housing America's oldest and most esteemed journal of the paranormal, which it does.
For the past 55 years, Fate, the magazine Galde runs, has been busy publishing stories about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, time travel, astral projection, life after death, the latent psychic abilities of house pets, angelic visitations, haunted houses (which, as it happens, includes Galde's own), government conspiracies, the lost continent of Atlantis, voodoo cults, and, of course, UFO encounters. But this is no mere pulp tabloid. Authoritative, even academic, in tone, Fate dares to take all of the above seriously.
"Everyone has a psychic story or has seen something that's changed their life," Galde says. "I think that's why Fate has endured for so long while a lot of magazines have come and gone. It has a good reputation because sometimes we'll say, 'This is a bunch of baloney.' We look objectively at things."
Take alien abductions, for instance. Although Galde herself has had experience with UFOs--more on that shortly--Fate contains none of the expected lurid tales of cavity probings or Elvis sightings. Instead you will find a measured discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial contact. Here, by way of example, is an excerpt from a March, 2003 exposé on abductions:
There is an extensive tradition of people who were kidnapped "from above" in human history--Elijah, Romulus, the founder of Rome, and a host of unnamed ones--combined with many thousands that disappear every year without a trace. If these alien-born humans have the power, obviously, to return to Earth, what keeps them from staying? Perhaps they fear the reprisals of their alien masters, or the loss of certain faculties ('powers' so to speak) that they may have developed or acquired on other worlds. Perhaps they have been thoroughly brainwashed and no longer see Earthbound humanity as kin.
So it goes with other dispatches from the frontiers of fact: "Talking to Angels" (December 2000); "You Can Hear Dead People" (February 2001); "Crop Circles--The Mind of God?" (May 2002); "Civil War Ghosts of Atlanta" (August 2003); "Giant Octopus in Ocean's Depth" (November 2001); "The Medium and the Murderer: Jack the Ripper Exposed by Psychic in 1888" (October 2003); "DRAGONS ARE REAL!" (November 2002).
Strangest of all, every word in Fate is true.
Fate's nerve center is in Galde's basement. At first glance, the magazine's office is disappointingly ordinary, suggesting nothing more than your average semi-prosperous home business. There are a few desks with computers, and a number of youngish, shoeless employees hanging around. But a cursory inventory of the books lining the walls offers some clue as to what goes on here: The UFO Encyclopedia, Occult Theocracy, The Goat Foot God. Galde points out a corner between the photocopier and a fish tank. This, she says, is the location of an inter-dimensional vortex through which spirits occasionally pop in for a visit.
Galde is sensitive to hauntings. Growing up in a turn-of-the-century North Dakota farmhouse, she was visited nightly by phantoms. Only later, when she returned to the house as an adult, did she discern that the visitors were the spirits of departed relatives. But Galde isn't the only one in the Fate office who has experienced eerie phenomena: Her housemate and coeditor David Godwin has, while working late at night, occasionally seen a man in a suit wandering about--a lonely soul looking for company, Galde figures.
Twice, as a child, Galde had what she believes were encounters with extraterrestrials--nothing more than curious lights in the inky Midwestern night, perhaps, but enough to excite her imagination. These, along with a steady diet of science fiction, opened her mind to the possibility of the paranormal.
"I've always been kind of sensitive about spirits," she says. "A lot of people in our family have a slight bit of psychic ability. The more you're involved with it, the more you pay attention to it. It's just like art appreciation: You're able to see colors, and see designs and brushstrokes, after you've learned about art or done painting yourself."
Galde has never had direct contact with aliens. But some years ago she began having vivid dreams in which she cavorted with tiny beings dressed in gold lamé stretch-suits. Eventually she grew worried that she was advertising herself as a target for alien abduction, and forced herself to stop dreaming.
Many years ago, Galde also came under the spell of Edgar Cayce, known widely as "The Sleeping Prophet." Cayce, who died in 1945, is perhaps history's best-known psychic: From a trance-like state, he predicted that California would one day slide into the Pacific Ocean and that Atlantis would be discovered in 1968 off the coast of Florida. (That neither has come to pass has not diminished him in the eyes of his devotees.)