Cosmic Truths of the Ages, Revealed

Is It Possible--Mind You, Just Possible--That the Mysteries of the Pyramids, the Origin of UFOs, and the Evolutionary Riddle of the Yeti Will be Solved Out of a Basement in Lakeville?

Later in the magazine's history, another unsolicited correspondent arrived at the office completely covered in red paint and carrying his manuscript in a plastic garbage bag.

 

By the late '80s, UFOs had hit the mainstream and Fate was in steep decline, scraping by on its cachet and the devotion of longtime readers who remembered the magazine nostalgically from the salad days of pulp. In 1988, the Fullers sold the magazine to Llewellyn, the St. Paul-based publisher of New Age and astrology books. The magazine relocated from Chicago to Llewellyn's Wabasha Street headquarters, a former tannery that, according to Galde, is haunted by the ghosts of the animals who died there.

Carl Weschcke, Llewellyn's longtime publisher, decided that Fate would be a perfect complement to his company's lineup. "People wanted to hear magic, and Fate was all about magic," he recalls. "The Fullers were very much believers. They did a considerable service to the world by opening people's minds to alternate realities and alternate explanations.

"That's an important thing," Weschcke continues. "A lot of us look at the world with blinders on. We need to take off those blinders and consider the possibility of another reality. UFOs and things like that--they're all things that impinge on our reality."

If Fate's raison d'être hadn't changed, though, the exigencies of magazine publishing had. Sweepstakes subscription sales, traditionally a major part of Fate's market, had virtually dried up. In an effort to revive newsstand sales, Llewellyn revamped the magazine from its original Reader's Digest size to a more traditional format.

Don Kraig, who edited the magazine for three years in the '80s, estimates that when Llewellyn bought it, Fate's subscription base was hovering around 30,000. Reportedly, the publisher even considered turning Fate into a Goth publication or scrapping it altogether. The former prospect irked the aging readership even more than did the latter.

Galde got involved with Fate by chance--or, if you prefer, fate. In 1982, she was a junior high teacher in tiny La Crescent, Minnesota. One morning, while walking down the hall, she heard a voice. "'Hand in your resignation right now,' it said. It was kind of scary, because I loved teaching," Galde recalls. "But here was the spiritual voice telling me to quit, so I did."

Some years later, while flipping through the phone book, Galde saw the name "Llewellyn" and decided to call about a job. As it happened, the publisher had one available, and Galde became a copy editor. Eventually, she found herself with the plum assignment of editing Fate. In 1991, Galde started her own publishing house, Galde Press, which now features some 90 titles. Galde began mostly with books on New Age spirituality and the paranormal--Enjoy Your Own Funeral is one example. But the press has since branched out into poetry and more traditional nonfiction--for instance, the best-selling World War II memoir A Half Acre of Hell.

In 2001, when Llewellyn decided to sell Fate, Galde jumped at the chance to run the magazine herself. Restoring the magazine to its former status was, she realized, her destiny.

 

Since taking over Fate, Galde has done her best to change nothing. The magazine's readership tends to be, on balance, rather conservative in its tastes: When Fate recently published a cover illustration by R. Crumb depicting a buxom female Yeti in a skimpy outfit, outraged letters poured in--less, perhaps, an outcry against the indecency of the drawing itself than against the misrepresentation of the noble Sasquatch.

"Our readers are devoutly loyal because, you know, it's not some big corporate thing," Galde explains. "But, boy, if we get our facts wrong, they call us up and give us heck. They also don't like anything too raunchy or sexist or too risqué."

On this gusty November afternoon, Galde and a couple of her part-time staff members are sitting at her kitchen table stuffing letters to Fate subscribers--one of the innumerable small tasks that devolve to the editors of this decidedly non-corporate enterprise. There has been only one ghost sighting this week: While working near the haunted photocopier downstairs, the magazine's web designer, John Zupansic, had invoked the spirits of Curtis and Mary Fuller. Suddenly, he says, his hair stood on end.

"They come around a lot," explains Galde.

Far from finding these unannounced visits disquieting, Galde draws some comfort from the prospect of an active afterlife. "If I die I'll come back and tell you what it's like," she offers brightly.

Indeed, of all Fate's regular features, the most popular is "My Proof of Survival," in which readers write about their near-death experiences and brushes with divinity. Some of the stories are silly--a miraculous never-ending bag of potato chips, for instance--but most are sad and sweet and wonderful: dead parents and spouses returning to say goodbye to their survivors is a common one.

Reading through the heartfelt testimonials of Fate devotees, one gets a sense that they are, by and large, very much like Galde: Nice, normal people who simply choose to believe in a type of magic that's been wrung out of life. Their animating impulse is religious--a dream of a brighter, more comprehensible world, of life after death, of aliens and angels.

Which is, in a roundabout way, why everything in Fate is gospel, even if none of it is true.

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