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On a spiritual mission

Victor McGill returns to Monadnock region roots to share experiences from India, South Africa

  • Victor McGill, who is now known as Gogo Swami Ganganath, and Gogo Facane, who will be providing several programs in the region that include traditional Zulu dance, singing, storytelling and a question and answer session, sing and dance in the Zulu tradition.

    Victor McGill, who is now known as Gogo Swami Ganganath, and Gogo Facane, who will be providing several programs in the region that include traditional Zulu dance, singing, storytelling and a question and answer session, sing and dance in the Zulu tradition.

  • Victor McGill, left, with the priest who performed his wedding ceremony.

    Victor McGill, left, with the priest who performed his wedding ceremony.

  • Msho Gladys Dhlamini walks down the aisle during the western half of her wedding to Victor McGill. The couple followed the ceremony with a traditional ceremony as well.

    Msho Gladys Dhlamini walks down the aisle during the western half of her wedding to Victor McGill. The couple followed the ceremony with a traditional ceremony as well.

  • Children, many of whom have been adopted by Msho Gladys Dhlamini, at the mission founded by Dhlamini in South Africa, where Victor McGill now works.

    Children, many of whom have been adopted by Msho Gladys Dhlamini, at the mission founded by Dhlamini in South Africa, where Victor McGill now works.

  • Victor McGill, who is now known as Gogo Swami Ganganath, and Gogo Facane, who will be providing several programs in the region that include traditional Zulu dance, singing, storytelling and a question and answer session, sing and dance in the Zulu tradition.
  • Victor McGill, left, with the priest who performed his wedding ceremony.
  • Msho Gladys Dhlamini walks down the aisle during the western half of her wedding to Victor McGill. The couple followed the ceremony with a traditional ceremony as well.
  • Children, many of whom have been adopted by Msho Gladys Dhlamini, at the mission founded by Dhlamini in South Africa, where Victor McGill now works.

In the 1970s, Victor McGill was working as a chiropractor in Jaffrey, when his girlfriend went down to Boston to consult with a guru there. She came back with two tapes of the guru singing a spiritual chant. Immediately, said McGill in an interview Tuesday, he felt a connection.

“It was very sudden,” he recalled. “Boom, and I could feel the love, very strongly.”

Since that first moment, McGill has spent the rest of his life dedicating it to spiritual pursuits and studying multiple faiths. Now living in South Africa, McGill, who has lived in and outside the Monadnock region since his early 20s, has returned to his former residence in Temple for a brief stay. While he is here, he said in a recent interview, he will be sharing some of his experiences, song and dance with the region through a special program. Drawing from their combined experience of the Western, Eastern and indigenous tribal traditions, McGill, along with Gogo Facane, a South African shaman visiting the region with him, will be sharing stories, song and dance and question and answer session at the Mudita Yoga Studio above the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

McGill wasn’t a stranger to spiritualism. He had grown up Christian, and in his early 20s had become interested in meditation and yoga, and training in body-mind-spirit psychotherapy. When he heard that tape, he said, he became a follower of the guru, who became his first teacher, though the two never met in person. When he died, McGill met one of his guru’s followers, a swami. The meeting led to an immense spiritual release for McGill, who knew then he wanted to further his studies in India.

In 1983, McGill made his first extended stay in India, where he lived for three years under the tutelage of his guru’s successors, learning more about meditation and yoga, and providing chiropractic services. He returned to the Monadnock area three years later, where he founded a charitable trust called the Essence Center, and a retreat and healing center by the same name in Temple. His efforts lasted for another 10 years, before he made the decision to make a more permanent move to India in 1998.

While he was there, he went through seven years of strong practices, commonly doing 10 to 12 hours of yoga and meditation a day, and spending a year in silence. In 2007, he felt a calling to become involved in the Native American, Australian Aborigine and African indigenous tribes which started coming daily during his practice. It was an interest that would lead him to his wife and what he says is his true calling in life. In 2009, McGill learned of a Zulu Shaman in South Africa who had also embraced the Native American tradition. McGill said he had a strong pull to meet this woman.

In South Africa, Msho Gladys Dhlamini was waiting for him. Her daughter, also a shaman, said she had received a vision that a white man was coming from across the water to marry her mother and help to complete her mother’s mission. Dhlamini has dedicated her life to assisting the poor, particularly children. When she and McGill first met, it was love at first sight, said McGill, and the two were married.

Since early 2012, McGill and Dhlamini have worked together to build the first level of infrastructure on a complex that will eventually include an orphanage, preschool, primary and secondary school, as well as an extensive permaculture farming project that will help to feed the local community.

McGill has already assisted Dhlamini with establishing a South-African based Charitable Trust, called Ubuhle Bemvelo, and establishing a water supply, solar electricity, two large houses, four large Zulu-style oval one-room homes called roundovas, as well as rebuilding three existing roundovas. Also, a building with a community laundry room and washing machine was constructed, and a community kitchen was improved, with a cement floor and walls added to the area, which had previously just been covered by a roof.

The community also relies on five large gardens, along with 10 cows, eight goats and 50 chickens that help to feed the people there. According to McGill, there are more than 30 people that either live in the community, or are supported in some way by it.

In addition to his program at the yoga studio, McGill also plans to organize other events in the area during his stay. For further information contact McGill at EssenceWay@me.com or call 878-5750.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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