There is truth and there is paranormal truth.
Truth, however we assure ourselves of it, is supposed to be real and objective. Paranormal truth needs only to be authentic.
Paranormal truth is the record of what people say and think about paranormal subjects. It is folkloric, not scientific. The two kinds of truth do occasionally come together, and with “The Whistlers” series and all of Mason Winfield’s work, the line between them is never certain. Welcome to the paranormal – and life.
Mason Winfield was raised in the suburbs near Buffalo, NY, the only child of a middle-class family. He was an active, energetic kid. Except for an inquisitive streak, an early predilection for reading and drawing, and that “only child”-thing, he showed few signs of a future author, storyteller, and paranormalist. He did like monsters, though. Books, movies, comics. Except that it could have used a few more monsters, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad would have been his idea of a perfect movie at age seven.
Mason’s first brush with psychic phenomena – psi – came during junior high school. A little cult of neighborhood kids played – we do mean “played” – with the ouija board. A gifted amateur psychic taught them about Spiritualism. Mason witnessed several convincing incidents of psi, though he had then, as now, no firm theory about its causes and mechanisms.
Mason read voraciously in junior high and high school. Fantasy, history, adventure, science fiction, paranormal research, fantastic archaeology… He was an English major at Denison University and got his M. A. from Boston College with a focus on British Romanticism.
Mason coached and taught at The Gow School in South Wales, NY, a boarding school for students with dyslexia, the reading disability. “The toughest job you’ll ever love,” he says of it, but recalls the thirteen years as some of the best of his life. While at Gow Mason chaired the English department, won a 50K cross-country ski marathon, and was ranked several times among the Buffalo-area’s top ten tennis players. He kept up his interests in the paranormal.
Not all of us are cut out for full careers at schools. Shortly after leaving teaching Mason had his first book deal. Shadows of the Western Door (1997) was a Jim Brandon/Weird America-style paranormal survey of Western New York. “Shadows” features chapters on ancient mysteries (including giant skeletons), earth-energies, famous ghosts, occult societies, alternative cults and religions, Native American supernaturalism, and the mysterious Roycroft community in East Aurora. “Shadows” was an upstate sensation, and it’s had quite a number of spins.
Mason founded Haunted History Ghost Walks, Inc., an upstate New York “supernatural tourism” company that leads walking and vehicle tours, conferences, pub crawls and performances. A popular storyteller/spoken word artist, Mason has appeared at many venues including City of Night (Buffalo NY), Rochester Fringe (Rochester, NY) and Picolo Spoleto (Charleston SC). Mason’s talks and spoken word performances have been sponsored by Poets & Writers, “The Big Read,” New York Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and First Night Saratoga. As an author and paranormalist, he has appeared at sci-fi/fantasy/horror conventions including World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY, and several incarnations of the venerable Horrorfind in the Baltimore/DC area.
By now Mason has written or edited twelve books, including Ghosts of 1812, a study of the Niagara war and its folklore (Western New York Wares, 2009), and (with Michael Bastine) Iroquois Supernatural, a study of the traditions of the Six Longhouse Nations (Inner Traditions International/Bear & Company, 2011). His real niche, though, is the paranormal, a field with many components.
Mason is not a parapsychologist – an academic trained in parapsychology. He is a paranormal generalist. He is more of a historian/folklorist than he is a psychic or a ghost-hunter. He takes the broad field seriously, and he is taken seriously as a researcher.
He has addressed the “ancient mysteries” conference of the New England Antiquities Research Association.
He has spoken about Native American legends and tradition on all three upstate New York Seneca reservations.
He has led workshops at the Spiritualist community Lily Dale concerning aspects of parapsychology and world tradition.
He has lectured all over New York State about ghostly and folkloric tradition.
He is probably the world authority on the mystical, occult, and supernatural connections of East Aurora’s Arts & Crafts Movement community Roycroft.
He has appeared as a guest expert on more TV, radio, and internet programs than he can recount. He designed and hosted The Phantom Tour (2003), a two-hour TV program/DVD on haunted history in upstate New York. He has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and stars in a 2006 episode of the Travel Channel program Legend Hunters.
Mason has been deeply privileged to learn from a number of his own teachers: author/dowser Sig Lonegren (ancient mysteries); the Franciscan friar Father Alphonsus Trabold (parapsychology); Edythe “Kitty” Turgeon (the Arts & Crafts Movement); his old college friend Glenn Taylor Bard (Celtic tradition); and Tuscarora medicine man Ted Williams, Seneca culture-keeper DuWayne Bowen, and Algonquin mystic Michael Bastine (Native American tradition).
Mason concedes to being less than captivated by televised treatments of paranormal subjects including UFOs, cryptozoology, and surveillance-style ghost-hunting. He is fascinated by the academic study of subjects like parapsychology, occult conspiracy, ancient mysteries, geomancy, and First Nations/indigenous tradition. He is always looking for connections, and all of these went into “The Whistlers.”
Mason’s first novel series may be unusual for fiction. “The Whistlers”’ inspirations are not other works of art and entertainment. “The Whistlers” was inspired by research – paranormal truth.
If A Paranormal Intrigue happens to leave you hanging, there is good news. Book Two, The Lord of the Dawn, will be appearing in hard copy and as an e-book in the fall of 2017.