Ronald Murphy Jr. graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Literature and Religious Studies and attended graduate school at Pitt and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he studied history. He is a professional actor, having appeared in movies, on television, and on stage. He is also a researcher and historical reenactor for the Underground Railroad in Blairsville, PA. Ronald is considered an international expert on faerie lore, and has researched the unexplained from Maine to Florida as well as in the United Kingdom. He is a noted lecturer, and appears at various conferences throughout the year. Ronald is interested in infrasound and pheromones in relation to fortean research. He also studies cryptozoology as it relates to the Collective Unconscious and focuses on archetypes found throughout world cultures
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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Tech World for the Technologically Illiterate

I love to write. I truly do. But I do so in a very simple way. I write my ideas on paper (paper is this flat material made traditionally from organic materials) using a pencil (an archaic writing instrument made, again, from wood, using a carbon-based tip to allow the transfer of ideas onto the previously mentioned paper. Pencils also have a correcting implement know as an eraser). Then, after I have my ideas, I take out my computer, turn it on, scream at it, then proceed to enter my handwritten ideas onto the screen.

OK, this is all I can do. I don't know how to change font sizes or colour or justification or add pictures. I simply write. Now, in this tech world, am I at a disadvantage in my endeavour to be a Fortean scientist? The answer is yes, of course. I don't have any of the cool gear all the cool cats are using on television. Instead of using sound collecting parabolic dishes, I instead use something called ears. And I use my nose to smell things and my old eyes to see things. Simple. And I use my brain to process information and tabulate that information. I know, I am low tech. But there is something about going into the wild without the benefit of technology. You begin to rely on human instinct, that last vestige of the animal in us. We have an extra sense out there among nature that is artificially suppress in civilisation. That is the sense of danger, the sense that keep us alive. It is still with us, buried deep within. But it is there. And relying on this sense is about as low tech as you can get.


Greetings fellow explorers and wanderers into life's mysterious! Welcome aboard our little tour bus as we explore the unknown. Please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ronald Murphy. I am sure many of you reading this are now whispering under your breath "who in the bloody hell is Ronald Murphy?" And that is, of course, a natural inclination. So, allow me a moment to give you a little background into who I am. I trust we shall be fast friends and lifelong pals. Ok, so I was born in America in a small town in Western Pennsylvania about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. It was a canal town in the 1800s, with industry spanning the Conemaugh River that bordered the edge of our little burg. But, alas, the town's labour day had come and gone a half century before my birth in 1969, and Blairsville was relegated to a crumbling main street with two traffic lights. But it was small town America and we could run the streets and play in the woods without any fears or worries. It was a rather Norman Rockwell experience, bucolic and simple. But something happened in 1977.

This was the year for the worst winter on record. Schools were closed for weeks. Even the mail could not get through to make deliveries. The entire world was blanketed in white, frozen and still. Of course spring inevitable brought with it a thaw, but with the melting ice and the returning robins also came strange sightings of a hairy, man-like creature. Yes, Bigfoot was sighted. And in my little town! My insignificant little town was now featured on the evening news out of Pittsburgh! We were on the map and the reason was for a lumbering cryptid that lurked the shadows. For an 8 year old boy, this was quite an adventure! My mother would load my brother and I in our beat-up car that had four bald tires and no spare and we would drive through the winding gravel roads looking for this creature. And, of course, when I wasn't driving around with my mom, my friends and I were in the woods looking for this elusive man-beast, scouring the muddy areas for tracks and perusing the jagger bushes for strands of hair.

Gradually, like the change of seasons, my quest to find this creature diminished in my dreams to leave my small, suffocating town. The fields and streets I used to play as a child not were prison bars confining me. I had to escape. So I left my little town and emigrated to the big city. Pittsburgh. Professional baseball and world-class universities. And I was enrolled in one. The University of Pittsburgh. The great Cathedral of Learning, the Gothic skyscraper that at one time was the tallest educational edifice in America, dominated the campus. I majored in literature and religious studies. But as I pursued my education, that damned Bigfoot continued to inhabit my thoughts. As I read the Epic of Gilgamesh, I could envision the character of the wild-man Enkidu as the Bigfoot that inhabited my youth. In Beowulf, Grendel was the man-like creature I hunted in my childhood. But why? How did these diverse cultures have the notion of the wildman? This put me on the road I am following to this very day.

As I went through my studies in history in graduate school, I traveled to England and Scotland. I took side trips to Loch Ness and the Highland to investigate the Grey Man and delve into faerie lore. I searched areas that had reports of werewolves and traveled to regions said to be haunted by vampires. This, you see, was history as well, these ideas shaping us and directing the way we think. I was able to adapt the scientific method and historical methodology into my quest into the paranormal. And after my first adventure in my mom's car, looking for Bigfoot, I am still looking to this very day.
My main focus of research is on the creation of the archetype. I have studied and I am very enamoured with Jungian thought. I try to uncover the shadows that inhabit the collective unconscious. And in so doing, I have come to the conclusion that these cryptic archetypes are embroidered into the very DNA of our humanity. They mean something to us. They are the "other," the creatures of the periphery, who haunt the liminal regions of our civilised world. And that, my friends, is what I bring to Fortean research.

Of course the paranormal is my passion, but I am also an historian in more secular matters. I research and write for the Underground Railroad Museum in my hometown of Blairsville. I also reenact characters as part of the tours that are conducted. And sometimes I have been known to appear on stage and from time to time you might catch a glimpse of me in a movie or on TV. I had a terrible midlife crisis so now I have a need to been seen and validated by others. Oh, the fragile psyche of a middle aged man! I also host a couple of radio shows dealing with the paranormal.

So, my friends, this is who I am. I want to learn and I want to share with you what I have gathered from my research. This will be a wild ride as we continue our tour into the Fortean fog, but it will never be boring. So, fasten your seatbelts. We are about to pull out. I will be your tour guide.

The Making of a Fortean

So, as I have said, this is a new beginning for me. At 48 years old, I do find it necessary to finally establish myself within this world of high strangeness.

I had belonged to several groups that tramped around the woods looking for bigfoot prints and creeped through abandoned buildings hoping a ghost would leave its voice on a tape recorder. However, evidence is rarely gathered and, in truth, these groups act as little more than social clubs. Hey, I am an educated researcher, employing the scientific method. I am not an armchair para-guy, who gets inspiration off cable television shows. No, I am an academic. So the Fortean approach is more my style.

And speaking of style, I need to look the part. As I am too lazy to shave, my manly red Viking beard has now been touched with grey, giving me a rather dignified air. But what else? I need to be the total package. I want to be the trademark people want to buy into. I am an author, after all! I need to make money. I refuse to wear safari clothing because I am not in Africa nor do I camp. But it seems mandatory to wear a hat, almost a prerequisite. So, on my birthday, my wife presented me with my very own hat. A beautiful fedora that harkens to Indiana Jones. Now, that I can live with. So, I have my hat. What about the clothes. Well, I have a leather jacket that is twenty years old, beaten and battered by life, sort of like its owner. I love this jacket so it is coming with me. I have always dressed conservatively, so a dress shirt is my style. But I am missing something. Then it came to me-- suspenders! Yes! It alludes to sophistication and a certain urbaness lacking in this world of paranormal and cryptozoological investigation.

So this is now my Fortean style. My new beginning now has a look all its own-- unique and totally me!


On Vampires

On Vampires, my newest investigation into the realm of the supernatural, is available. Say you want a copy of my book. Even better, say you ...