Paranormal Yakker with your host Stan Mallow

Click on Mason Winfield photo below to view video Interview



Season 1 Episode 9

Mason Winfield Paranormal Researcher, Author.
Mason Winfield is an award-winning author, researcher, lecturer, founder of Haunted History Ghost Walks, and co-founder of the Spirit Way Project. He is the go-to person when it comes to matters related to the paranormal, the supernatural, myths, and legends of Upstate New York. In his interview with Stan Mallow, the Paranormal Yakker, Mason talks about what motivated him to leave a secure position in academia to pursue his passion for researching and writing about the rich paranormal history of his area of New York State holds. He also talks about some of his many books, including the best selling, “Shadows of The Western Door.” It takes his readers on a journey of haunted sites and ancient mysteries of Upstate New York. Covered in the interview are Spirits of the Niagara Wine Trail, haunted rivers, phantom ships, energy sites, monsters, UFOs, occult architecture, conspiracies, child-stealing Little People, demon-tortured roads, psychic phenomena, ouija boards, and a strange ring of graves. When you finish viewing this interview, you will never look at Upstate New York the same way as you previously did.

Transcript of video Interview

Stan Mallow
Hi, everyone, I am Stan Mallow. Welcome to the Paranormal Yakker. My guest on today's show, who I'll be yakking with, is Mason Winfield. Mason is a highly-respected scholar, an award-winning author, researcher, lecturer, founder of Haunted History Ghost Walks. Now, Mason, you are indeed the undisputed go-to person when it comes to anything related to the paranormal, the supernatural, myths, legends, especially when it comes to western New York. I know you by reputation for that and so Mason Winfield, welcome to the Paranormal Yakker.
Mason Winfield
Thank you, so much, Stan, I'm really happy to be here. I'm lucky to be here.
Stan Mallow
I know a lot about your background and your academic credentials are incredible. You had a wonderful career in academia, your future was secure, that's something a lot of people would love. Yet somewhere along the way, you walked away from it to explore, research, write about matters related to the paranormal. What was the driving force and motivated you to do that?
Mason Winfield
Well, you know, there were actually two forces. I felt like education was changing around me. That education, you know, it just felt like it was moving in a direction that I wasn't as comfortable with. Plus, I just had an irresistible compulsion to be an author, to be a researcher. And you know, the two things kinda happened at once. I mean, the school I was at underwent a little transition, had a new headmaster. I didn't like his philosophy of education quite as well as the guy that had preceded him. I think in retrospect, I look back on that and say, well, I was young, I was hot tempered. What I thought about education, it wasn't as vehement as I think I would think now. You know, a lot of things are more than one cause and but let's just say that it's been a good direction for me.
Stan Mallow
With all your success that's come to you, in retrospect, the answer to that is yes but you were taking a chance for sure walking away from a secure job. A lot of people would love that and you did it so--
Mason Winfield
And I liked the job, too, I liked the job. I didn't have a family that I had to support. So I could take a few more chances. I knew I could make it a year or two without going belly-up. And I also, I had a book deal pretty quickly after I left teaching. It doesn't go that well for most people. So, and the book took another year-and-a-half or two to be published but during the time, I showed the manuscript to a couple of other writers, or I just let them know what I was working on. And every single one of them said the same thing. My first book was "Shadows of the Western Door" published in 1997 and everyone who looked at it said this will change your life. And it was really the first paranormal survey of my region. I didn't know of too much else like it anywhere. It was kind of modeled after a book called "Weird America" by an author who has so many pen names that I'm not even sure, Jim Brandon, yeah. And Jim Brandon did a book called "Weird America" which was a paranormal survey of the United States. State by state by state. And it was an influential book. And I just said, well, why don't I try this on western New York, try it on my home region? Do the paranormal survey, see if there's anything there and there was more there than I could've dreamed at the time. It's almost a little bit sad, I think I might be done with research or at least regional research. I think I'm probably done with that. But there is so much more here.
Stan Mallow
I have a question for you about "Shadows of the Western Door," which you did a great job of taking readers on a journey of haunted sites and ancient mysteries of upstate New York. I know it's still a popular and much-requested book today, so that has to make you feel good. My question to you is did you get any backlash from the community or are they okay with it? And the reason I ask you is this, I know authors who go into areas like, you come from a lovely area and you're like a Norman Rockwell painting or Disney movie in the 1950s, very nice. But a lot of times, people like to keep things, you know, not for the outsiders and I had to ask you this question. Was there any feedback, any backlash to you, it was like, hey, you know, we gotta keep it for locals or no?
Mason Winfield
Surprisingly little. There was surprisingly little. I tried to be very professional in the way I wrote about places. I made sure not to betray a confidence. If somebody told me a story that was meant to leave their name out or, I always honored it. And it's interesting, I've been writing about these subjects for over 20 years and I've never once has anyone said to me, "You shot me down." You know, no one's ever said that I betrayed a confidence. I've had other complications but that simply hasn't been one of 'em.
Stan Mallow
I'm very pleased to hear that. Course, I know I was speaking to some other people, I will not mention names or anything like that, they wanted to do something and they were gonna be tarred-and-feathers out of town if you talk about it. But not with you so I think that's great. And it says a lot of good about the people in your area there, they're open to it.
Mason Winfield
I never claimed to be talking to the dead. I never wanted to turn up any secrets that would damage people. I certainly never wanted to, you know, embarrass any individuals. So there's a lot of stuff I could've written about that I didn't. And I think that was appreciated.
Stan Mallow
When you were younger, you had an incident, an episode, if you will, related to psychic phenomena, specifically it was the ouija board. What was the experience like and did you ever try the ouija board again or some other form of divination, just out of curiosity?
Mason Winfield
That's two good questions in one. Yeah, you are very well, very well-researched, incidentally. You told me you were in one of our emails. But you have done your homework.
Stan Mallow
You're a fascinating guy.
Mason Winfield
Ah, ha, ha, ha. When I was in junior high, I lived in a neighborhood in east Aurora where a bunch of the kids were playing around with a ouija board. And I'll take a quick aside here by pointing out that my friends at Lily Dale, my spiritualist friends, believe that the most dangerous thing anybody is likely to play around with is a ouija board. And yet that is the device that always end up at high school sleepovers, you know? And people often ask me why should the ouija board be so dangerous? And I can go through that if you want in a minute, it won't be a long discussion. But the long and the short of it is our little group working the ouija board gradually fell out because people kept getting freaked. Until it was just me and one kid. And we honestly, we established communication, we asked for our spirit guides. And we established regular communication with these spirit guides and we would always commence a session asking, "Is so-and-so there?" And eventually, my friend, too, got really freaked and I don't know that I've ever written completely about this but we experienced what both of us believe was spontaneous psychic phenomena. Moving objects, sounds, even dramatic. And my friend got so freaked by it that he he's abandoned it and he won't even talk about it. You know, I'm not afraid of the ouija board. I think if you're cautious and you go through the protocol,
Stan Mallow
Yes.
Mason Winfield
You're probably not gonna run into a problem. If you do, put it away and don't come back with it. But you know, there's so many better methods, safer methods of trying to reach the other side than the ouija board, you know? I guess I should probably answer the question I alluded to before. It's like people say to me, "Why is the ouija board so dangerous?" And I always tell them, well, think about the other ways you might go about reaching the other side. You may throw tarot cards. You may visit a trained medium. But in neither case do you take the psychic influences inside yourself. When you throw the cards or any other means like that, spirit is not entering anyone. And when you visit a professional medium, they are the person who is taking the spiritual influences into them and then dictating to you. But when you start working on a ouija board, especially if you're a high school kid, I would make the psychic analysis to leaving the front door to your house open at midnight with a sign on the lawn saying "Free beer." I mean you don't know, yeah you don't know who's showing up.
Stan Mallow
Right.
Mason Winfield
Yeah, when you open up your unconscious as you are supposed to when you're working on a ouija board, everything flows through you. Sensationalizes everything.
Stan Mallow
Absolutely yes.
Mason Winfield
You know, like "Poltergeist," you know? It's like, I recently did a little clip on evaluating famous movies for the way they treated psychic or paranormal subjects and you know, some them, surprisingly, got high marks. But, for instance, the film "Poltergeist," I mean, they make it sound as though a poltergeist is a being, a demonic being with an intelligence and that isn't even what the word means, you know? And parapsychology, there are responsible professionals who are researching these subjects. And you know, the poltergeist isn't even supposed to be an identity, I mean, poltergeist phenomena is thought to be produced by the unconscious energies of living people, particularly one person at a time. I mean, if you're having an outbreak of poltergeist phenomena, and they don't even use the name poltergeist too much anymore in research. They call it RSPK, recurring spontaneous psychokinesis. Which means crazy stuff started happening, don't nobody know why.
Stan Mallow
Yep.
Mason Winfield
But the long and short of it is it's not dangerous. It's one of the most remarkable things about a poltergeist display is that it's so deliberately not dangerous. It's like with all the junk flying around in a really developed case, you'd think some fool's gonna walk in and went, wham, down he goes, you know? It doesn't happen, it's almost like a poltergeist is deliberately on the lookout not to hurt people.
Stan Mallow
Right, now, a question I've gotta ask you, I don't know if you've ever been asked this before, of course, I know you're a pro, that you're an academic, and everything with research and you're meticulous and science and all of that and I understand that and that's how you approach the legends of this and everything you're involved with, I know that. But I've gotta ask you this, again, for my own curiosity. Have you ever given any thought on the possibility of past lives or reincarnation that maybe your interest and fascination in the paranormal is somehow connected to a former life or lives in western New York? I had to ask you that question.
Mason Winfield
I'm glad you did. I mean, you know, before we had this chat, we've always been on friendly terms, and I said, "You can ask me anything." As far as past lives, you know, I really wonder about that. There is some evidence of reincarnation. It isn't bad, I mean, to me, it doesn't prove reincarnation but it points to the fact that the world can be much more mysterious than we think. I personally, I know I've told you before that I'm not a psychic.
Stan Mallow
Right.
Mason Winfield
They say everybody's got psychic abilities. Well, if that's the truth, mine are low rollers. The only way I can personally and sensibly respond to that question about past lives is that when I was a kid studying history, there were certain world cultures that I really felt close to. And there were certain world cultures that I really felt a push away. And I've really gravitated to Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian societies, and the Japanese. And you know, my ancestry isn't Japanese but I've really felt a deep admiration for the medieval Japanese, the bushido code. And then there's other parts of the world that as much as I might be interested in these societies, I just felt pushed away by them. And it's possible that I, you know, I guess, maybe I had some incarnations that were in certain societies that left a good feeling, you know?
Stan Mallow
My only reason for asking is that, when you speak to so many people who are involved in the, they recreate the Civil War and other battles, when you speak to the soldiers who play characters on either side, they say they somehow felt that they lived it at another time. And you seem so close, as a researcher, to these other people and things like that. I thought there might be some connection but who knows?
Mason Winfield
Oh, I'm flattered, I'm honored that you would think that. You know, there certainly could be but it is known to God and not me if so, you know?
Stan Mallow
Okay, sure, that's a good answer. Now, why do you think western New York state has such an abundance of paranormal happenings and history and so many people who are involved in the occult and the supernatural who are attracted to the region?
Mason Winfield
I keep it as an active possibility that the reason western New York looks so haunted is because you've got a guy like me that's writing everything he can find down. I don't think you can prove that western New York is more haunted than anywhere else that's had comparable population and history. Western New York has a demonstrable legacy of alternative, one of my cats just came up to see what the meeting's all about.
Stan Mallow
Say hi for me, hi.
Mason Winfield
This is Fortnight, I don't know if you can see her. Fortnight, hello, honey--
Stan Mallow
Yes, very cute, very pretty.
Mason Winfield
She's the scaredy cat, when she jumps up you know, she likes you, Stan, that's all I can say.
Stan Mallow
It's so unusual, as probably you know that the people whose cats, when they go for ghost hunting or exploring, to bring them along with them. I don't know if you knew that or not, yeah. Apparently they have a sense, if you ever see your cat like staring at something, staring somewheres, and you don't see anything there, get a camera, click it. You may be presently surprised. Just as something to think about.
Mason Winfield
No, you know, you're absolutely right. I've never thought of that but you know all indigenous societies believe that companion animals, dogs and cats, could see things. It's like the critters are sort of liminal, you know? They're L-I-M-I-N-A-L, they're sort of half-way between the world of people and of natural animals, you know? And so they're metaphorically thought they might be halfway between the worlds. The physical world and the spiritual world, so, yeah, I mean, I lived in a cottage across the street from where I live now with a young woman years ago. She had a little dog and I used to take the thing for walks at night on the Knox Estate where I lived. Big park, trees, meadows. And this dog could see spirit, I believe it firmly. We'd be walking along and once every 10 times, he'd just stop and look at something. And he'd just fix his gaze on something about 50 feet away and he'd stare at it for about, you know, five, 10 seconds and then he'd let down and go, ah, it was only a ghost.
Stan Mallow
Now, you've written many excellent books about the paranormal aspects of different New York state areas. I'd like to touch base with you on a few of them just out of my curiosity, okay? Now, I know if I had to go through each and every one of your books, we'd be two hours on each one and that might be a bit too long for the audience. When people go to Niagara, one of the must-things after the fall is always taking a tour of the wine country, Niagara wine country, very, very famous throughout the world. One of your books was "Spirits of the Niagara Wine Trail, "A Haunted History Tour Through New York Wine Country" is one of those books. Now, in it you write about haunted rivers and phantom ships as well as legends surrounding the War of 1812. Could you elaborate on that? These rivers, when you say something like a haunted river, I mean I wanna see this turned into a movie or something. How did they become haunted? Where are these phantom ships?
Mason Winfield
Well, the Great Lakes have a number of reports of ghost ships. As does the ocean. You know, there tends to be, I mean, the general public tends to think that the only thing that can get haunted is a building, you know? And at least if the folklore and the eyewitness reports is telling us anything at all, that isn't correct. As far as a river being haunted, let's just say that certain stretches of human avenues of transportation like streets, ancient native trails, 'cause you'll find in upstate New York a lot of the numbered routes in at least western New York, with which I'm the most familiar. I mean, Route 78, 20A, Route 5, a lot of them were ancient native American foot paths. And they just paved it over and made a road out of it. And whenever you're doing some research on a new town, you get the map and you put a push-pin in wherever you get a ghost.
Stan Mallow
Yep.
Mason Winfield
You'll find a pattern along the native trails. I mean, Route 5 is notorious. Every little village Route 5 goes through, half the street is, it'll always be the main street, too, you know, it'll be the first street in the town. So I guess that's a long way of saying yes, transportation avenues can tend to pick up ghost stories. Buildings on both sides of the street, anywhere within 50 feet of dead-center of an old native trail can pick up a lot of folklore.
Stan Mallow
In your book called "Haunted Places of New York, "A Supernatural Tour Guide," you write about ancient holy places, energy sites, monsters, UFOs. Can these sites be visited today?
Mason Winfield
Yeah, they can, you've gotta find most of them. But actually I give people as good evidence as I have of where something was. I mean, I think this is a very neglected avenue of insight into popular surveillance ghost hunting, incidentally. I mean, they're all going to buildings and they're not even picking some of the best buildings in my book in what I see on TV, you know? But you know, the ancient monuments, there's a major connection between the sacred and the supernatural. Ancient religious sites are just as haunted as hospitals, battlefields, I mean, they just tend to pick up supernatural folklore. And they pick up report, which is perceived experience. And a lot of the ancient religious structures are lost. And maybe they were ancient monuments like henges, big ring-ditches or whether they were burial mounds, effigy mounds, you know, the Native Americans were just as busy on the landscape as were my ancestors in northwest Europe, you know? I mean, we don't have an exact Stonehenge here in western New York, here in North America, but we've got things that are damn close. And wherever these ancient monuments have been, people, even today, they say they see things. They see crazy lights, they see ghosts, they see mystery monsters. Sometimes the crazy lights are fairly terrestrial, you know? There are five or 10 around. Sometimes they're up in the stratosphere, they think they're seeing UFOs. But whatever it is it appears to be, that there's something about these ancient ritual spaces that produces the visionary experience in living human beings.
Stan Mallow
Saratoga Springs is also a big tourist attraction. People go there for the spas and for the waters. I know relatives who swore by it. They lived to 200 by going there and that's great. And you've, in your "Supernatural Saratoga, "Haunted Places and Famous Ghosts of the Spa City," you write about covens who work in secret in the Devil's Den. That intrigues me. Where in Saratoga is this Devil's Den? Why is it called that? Is it connected to the devil of the Bible or does it have some other connotations?
Mason Winfield
I'm pretty sure it was the devil of the Bible. Devil's Den, it's really walking distance from downtown. I mean, you walk north on Broadway and you head towards Skidmore College, it's really not far from the Skidmore College campus. I had a little trouble finding out for myself exactly why they call this area, which I think may still be wooded, Devil's Den. There is a lot of devil folklore in the immediate region, in Saratoga County. I mean, there's Sulfur Springs on the Saratoga Lake, at which the devil is reported. There's a lane, I think it might be in, it's not Stillwater, it's in, it's closer to Ballston Spa, there's a lane there called Devil's Lane. There was a surprising amount of devil lore. What I'd like to say about that, though, is that just because a piece of territory gets the nickname devil-this, devil-that, it doesn't mean that they're thinking literally of the European devil. What it means is that the early settlers, and let's remember that we're talking people from mid to late-1700s to very early 1800s, so they're about two generations away from being Puritans. A lot of their religious attitudes are still fundamentalist.
Stan Mallow
Yes.
Mason Winfield
And if it's not directly God, and Jesus and the Bible, it's automatically the other guy. So, when something in the upstate, especially a natural feature, gets the nickname of Spook, Snake, Witch, or Devil, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what it's related to. What it means is there's something there that caused the early settlers' circuits to fry. It's just like energetic ground, people see a few things, oh my God, if it's not Mother Mary, it's gotta be evil. And so these names pile up. I had actually thought about doing a bit of writing about spook, snake, or devil because there is so much--
Stan Mallow
That's a great title, by the way.
Mason Winfield
I've used it as a title for lectures. And I think for a film it would be great. But really, what you'd be focusing on is the energies of the earth, the spirituality of the Native Americans. Because very often, you'd find Spook Hill or Snake Run or Devil's Lane and then you find the Native Americans, if they're still living in the area, and you go, "What do you guys know about that spot?" They go, "Oh, yeah, we told you guys not to go there "but you didn't listen to us." And you know, very often, they've had tradition about it. But you know the Native American mind, forgive me if I generalize, I'll try to do it in a very respectful way, but see, the Western mind, was kind of raised on these dichotomies of fundamentally good and fundamentally bad. And a lot of it relates to the way Christianity has been presented to us. Because Christianity is fundamentally a Manichaen Zoroastrian type of way of looking at things. There's the light and there's the good and the good guy is so good he even smells good. And the bad guy is dark and he's underground and he's so bad he even stinks. But a lot of world religions and world cultures don't look at things in this kind of a dichotomy, you know? It's like, yeah, and so, in other words, there is an author, I can't recall the guy's name, but he wrote a lot about Native American monuments. And he even said, you know, to the Native American mind, there was very little difference between a powerful religious place and a haunted place. It's like, really, sometimes it's haunted, sometimes you see the gods, you know? And I almost wish a lot of us could look at it that way, that it might be some energy about a place that isn't good or bad. If you show up with a headache, it's gonna hit you one way. If you show up after you met a new woman, it could hit you the other, you know?
Stan Mallow
Now, in "Haunted Rochester, A Supernatural History "of the Lower Genesee," you write about demon-tortured roads and holy miracles, you're always writing about things that I just wanna know more about them. Do these roads still exist? Why are they considered tortured? And what miracles took place in the area?
Mason Winfield
Let's remember one thing, Stan. I can write the book but other people may be responsible for what goes on the cover, you know, so.
Stan Mallow
Yeah, gotcha, okay.
Mason Winfield
You know, you don't win every battle. I can honestly say in my writing career, I've won the battles that really counted, let's put it that way.
Stan Mallow
And we're gonna leave that part at that. Now, at the beginning of this interview, I mentioned that you're the founder of Haunted History Ghost Walks. I wanna compliment you on those tours and I recommend them to anyone visiting upstate New York. I know when I visit anywheres, first thing I wanna know is where is this city, where are the ghost tours, and really the history tours because you learn so much. Now, regarding those tours, I have a few questions about some of them, again, I'm not gonna address all of them for the sake of time but a few of them, you cover some things that really intrigue me and I'd like to know about those, so here goes. I'll be as brief as possible. In your Williamsville Ghost Walk, you speak about child-stealing little people and a strange ring of graves. What's that all about?
Mason Winfield
Well, actually, those are both, see, I wrote those. I wrote those both.
Stan Mallow
Okay.
Mason Winfield
Yeah, those are some blurbs I did write so those are pretty right-on. There is a ring of graves, there's a religious community there or how would I put it? I'm not Catholic so I don't know what you call everything but I guess it's a nunnery, or whatever it is. But it's a big old monumental building along the Eleka Creek and they have a ring of graves there, a circle, of gravestones and I'm pretty sure that they call it the 13 Marys. Apparently there were 13 beloved nuns all named Mary. And when they died, they were buried in this circle but I mean, a circle of 13 is kinda cool.
Stan Mallow
I would think so.
Mason Winfield
I mean, 13, either a very holy number meaning Jesus and the disciples or it's, you know, it seems to me that it's all connected. And as far as the child-stealing little people, you know, many people stereotype folklore about fairies. With, you know, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Iceland. But, you know, the longer I'm in this business, the more widespread lore and legends about the little people seems to me. I did not know until recently how prevalent it was in South America and I knew many native nations of the northeast, you know, my region, Algonquin, Iroquoi and major league. Any native nation in either language family, the Iroquoian or the Algonquin, will tend to have traditions about little people. But little people are very often thought to covet children. It's one of the constants about them all over the world. And some children, I mean, this is the subject of its own program, the imaginary friend, but many children who have exceptionally well-developed imaginary friends, I mean, friends that are constant, that are giving the child information that the child couldn't have had. Very often, they're little. And I can only tell you that some of them, the neatest and also some of the creepiest stories I get involve children and these little imaginary friends they have. And my native friends believe that the little people are prone to take children away.
Stan Mallow
Now, in your Orchard Park Ghost Walk, you cover old-world occultism. What is old-world compared to new-world occultism?
Mason Winfield
Well, actually, the Quakers were, they're basically the American Puritans, you know? They got kicked out of England for starting a revolution and killing the king and then so a lot of 'em found the kettle getting hot over there, as it were. And the Quakers, I wish I'd known you were going to ask about this so I may be a little off with my dates but George Fox was an Englishman walking around, I think maybe the mid-1600s, he's waking in his section of England, I forget the shire, but he's near this mountain called Pendle Hill. He walks up on top of the mountain, has a vision, a vision of him dictating a new spin-off religion to a great many people, comes down from the hill, has his vision, off he goes. But Pendle Hill is a funny place to be getting kind of a fundamentalist Christian, Old Testament, let-my-people-go-kind of a vision because Pendle Hill, first of all, apparently in the earlier 1600s, like 50 years before this vision, there was a war of witches going on in the region and a bunch of them used to have their meetings on top of Pendle Hill. There were two lead witches that were leading rival covens, and they were out to get each other. One was called, her nickname was Chattox, C-H-A-T-T-O-X. And the other one was called Demdike, D-E-M-D-I-K-E. I know it's no slur but the long and short of it is you've got this witch war going on, focused on Pendle Hill, the authorities come in, the tenderhearted Inquisition, hangs about 14 of them on Pendle Hill. Furthermore, there's a prehistoric battlefield up there, an ancient fort, and burial ground that might go back 9,000 years. And this is where the founder of the Quakers had his vision. I hope he took the credentials of whoever he thought he was talking to. I hope he didn't use the ouija board.
Stan Mallow
You never know, we'll never know. I'm sure they would erase it from the books. Now, in your East Aurora: The Supernatural Roycroft Ghost Walk, you cover occult architecture, I never heard of that. I'm pretty knowledgeable about architecture from different eras, the Renaissance, et cetera, but I never heard of occult architecture. What is that?
Mason Winfield
You've hit the nail on the head, Stan. Up to right about now, that's been one of my niches. There don't seem to be too many other people who can explicate it. The long and short of it is, architecture is a very forbidding subject to a great many people. And I don't know why it should be so scary but I've written scripts for tour guides and coached 'em up and walked 'em through and they still can't talk about architecture. It's just something that people don't grab. But the long and short of it is that there is a connection between styles of architecture and supernatural folklore. People think they see things in certain styles of building. And that's another subject I was thinking about developing in a book or in a film. But the Roycroft campus is, to make it really short, the Roycroft campus is built in the old classic styles. And these are some of the styles of architecture that tend to pick up supernatural folklore. Your Rite Aid, your McDonald's, your Bennison strip mall, these red-brick rectangles, they don't tend to be the buildings that get ghost stories. Every little village has a story.
Stan Mallow
True.
Mason Winfield
Every little village, I mean rarely, every little village has its haunted house. And when you go to that every little village and you look for the haunted house, it's usually a Victorian gothic, a Greek revival, Gothic revival, and I've got a lot of speculation on why this might be but it's probably safest to leave it there for now.
Stan Mallow
Sure, to be continued. Now, you were the co-founder of the Spirit Way Project. Could you tell our viewers about the project, why you got involved with it, what is its purpose, and what do you hope the project will accomplish?
Mason Winfield
Spirit Way Project is loosely modeled after an outfit called the Dragon Project. Now, the Dragon Project was mostly a French and British outfit. I think their years of activity were like late '60s to about mid-'70s but they were basically serious people who set out studying ancient religious monuments. Particularly megaliths, Stonehenge, Avebury, Carnac, but also the great cathedrals. They were studying ancient religious monuments from all manner of perspective to try to see do they have a connection with human spirituality that could be measured. And they found a lot of wonderful stuff. So I was very inspired by the Dragon Project and I said well, I'd like to kind of try something like that in upstate New York. But I knew that we didn't have the infrastructure to do what they did. So, we're basically, it was founded by me and my Algonquin friend Michael Bastine. I mean, we're the two ringleaders. It's basically a loose organization whose goal is to preserve and commemorate the supernatural tradition of upstate New York. And we're hoping to popularize it and get people thinking about it and to write it down and to archive it. Because, you know, someday, 50 years from now, somebody is gonna wonder what did people in my lifetime and your lifetime, Stan, what did people think about these places, about these subjects? And the subject of the psychic, sacred, supernatural, is so out now in academia that it's like supernatural folklore might not even exist to them. One of the last taboos anybody really gets to have is against people who believe in the supernatural.
Stan Mallow
Agreed.
Mason Winfield
And to me, this is just as legitimate as anything else that is on people's minds. And to me, supernatural folklore and tradition and paranormal experience, it's really poetic. Some of the stories people tell you, some of the experience they have, they're really beautiful. And whether you believe them or not, they're imaginative, they're speculative, they call us to a realm of mystery, they call us out of our daily mundane thinking. And to me this stuff is worth preserving. And the trick with Spirit Way Project is that most of the managerial energy comes from me. And Mike is the spiritual guide and he lends immense clout to us but if somebody's gotta do a website or, I mean, I'm ending up doing that. And the trick is that if I get a new book to work on, all of a sudden, zap, I go book-zone, you know? And I've always been that way. When it's a really important job, zap. And I'll do it 13 hours a day. But I just have to make time for Spirit Way Project and we've got some new energy now, we're doing some podcasts, some videos.
Stan Mallow
Good, good.
Mason Winfield
But I'm hoping to put together a merchandise line so people can support us wearing something cool and hoping to have some conferences where people can meet and meet some speakers and just be with like-minded people and try to preserve some of the most beautiful tradition that isn't being preserved, you know?
Stan Mallow
I think that's great and it's a perfect segue, which is what I wanna ask you now. Should our viewers want to order your books, learn about your history ghost tours, your Spirit Way Project that you just described, or have you as a lecturer at one of their events where we can all be less than six feet apart, how do they go about contacting you?
Mason Winfield
Masonwinfield.com, my website.
Stan Mallow
You make it easy, masonwinfield.com. Great. Mason Winfield, I thank you for being my guest on the Paranormal Yakker. I look forward to other books and projects I know you'll be involved with down the road. And thank you, it's been great talking with you.
Mason Winfield
Well, what a privilege, Stan, it's a real honor. Don't be a stranger, if you ever get to western New York, you get Lily Dale, shoot me a message, okay?
Stan Mallow
I absolutely will and there are gonna be witnesses to this so yes, great, I look forward to it. Have a good night.
Mason Winfield
Okay, brother, be well.
Stan Mallow
Yeah, bye-bye.