I cannot access fixtures inside a global config.before(:each).
I think if you want to do global fixtures, you need to do the following in your spec_helper.rb file:
config.global_fixtures = [:permissions, :roles, :users, etc...
I believe I had global_fixtures set to :all. And the fixtures were available in regular before(:each) blocks, just not in the before(:each) declared on config.
This is fixed by #391, which will be part of the coming 2.10 release.