At a SLC roller rink in 1978, I saw a young man skating alone, with a cane. He was blind. When the DJ took a break from the disco tunes, I asked this fellow if I could buy him a Coke and chat a bit. I wanted to hear his story: What gave him the courage to do what he was doing here tonight?
Amiably, he told me about a woman he’d been studying with. Her name was Victoria Fugit. She taught something called Alpha Awareness — where one learns how to call upon various brain states at will for creative as well as practical purposes. He said Victoria, and the techniques she taught, had changed his life. He gave me her telephone number. I was a relative newcomer to Salt Lake, and looking for something like this. I called her the next day.
Victoria quickly became my teacher and friend. In college, she’d been a pre-med student, but then switched to theatre arts, particularly set design. Nine years her junior, I thrilled to her tales of adventure in the storied San Francisco Haight in the 1960s, replete with the cheerful troublemakers of the day, including my hero, Alan Watts. A practicing psychic, at one point she was part of a team working for the Lake Tahoe police department, “looking” for missing persons.
Eventually she returned to Salt Lake, where she had been born and raised by “Buddhist nudist” parents, as she described them, which is where our story picks up.
The skills I learned from Victoria were, as the skating blind fellow had said, life-changing. Beyond that, she introduced me to people I would never have imagined finding here at that time — people involved in changing consciousness in terms of the environment, spirituality, culture, and mental and physical health. A few years later she lent me the courage to quit my job as a computer supplies sales rep. Knowing my previous background in publishing, she challenged me to produce a magazine that spoke to the world that was emerging. More and more related gatherings and events were happening right here in Utah, as witnessed by the burgeoning bulletin board at Cosmic Aeroplane, the bookstore for all things alternative in the Valley at that time. People needed a way to connect. The energy was high and ripe for something like CATALYST.
The story, of course, is longer than this, and with more characters. But you could say, with 100% accuracy, that Victoria Fugit was the catalyst of CATALYST.
We produced the first edition in April of 1982. We worked together, usually late into the night, creating magazines from the world’s smallest budget. Her artistic sensibilities directed us. Most of the ads were hand-lettered. Some were joke ads we made for fun. That year we lived on watermelon, corn chips and tofu guacamole. We laughed a lot and slept very little. During that time and beyond, she also led traditional vision quests in the Southern Utah desert which she loved and knew so well.
In 1983, she moved to Florida. Three years later she was back in Salt Lake, in and out of CATALYST again in various roles. Then, in 1995, she made her dream move: to Moab.
Victoria was perhaps best always known for her work as an astrologer, with clients worldwide. She specialized in horary astrology, the art of cycles and timing. She helped countless people with practical issues such as signing contracts, changing jobs, major purchases and relationships. John and I chose our wedding date based on information from Victoria (the date we’d originally picked was “the second worst day of the year”) and it has stood us in good stead over time.
In her new life, in Moab, she expanded her skills, teaching herself to become a web designer. She worked for a vitamin company. She also devoted more and more time to her secret love: art— watercolor and, later, pastels. And with great pride she raised her young nephew, Shawn, to manhood.
We spoke usually once a year, around our birthdays in December, for several hours each time, vowing to stay in closer touch. So it was with dismay I learned that Victoria had died on August 30 after a serious illness.
Victoria was fierce and funny and not prone to morosity She valued intelligence and did not suffer fools gladly. Even in the long absences between our calls, she was a fine friend, and now one whom I will truly miss. I would love to have talked to her about her pending transition. Did I ever tell her how important she was to me? I mean, who would I even be if we hadn’t met? I don’t know. If there’s an afterlife, which I’m pretty sure she believed in, maybe she’s hearing it now.
Good bye, dear one. And again, a deep and humble thank you.