My name is Néité Décimus. I have been a Houngan for nearly 20 years, and on the path there for nearly 40 years. I am a guardian of this tradition, a role entrusted to me at age 12, long before I was fully and formally initiated.
I am also an anthropologist, as well as a mental health counselor. In all capacities, I aim to serve all of my communities and this world.
Mental Health Counselor
I am a certified mental health clinician and counselor (the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, CACREP; and member of the American Counseling Association, ACA, as well as of the American Mental Health Counselor Association, AMHCA). I have been working in the field since 2001. In 2013, I received a Masters of Education degree (M. Ed.) in Mental Health Counseling from Bridgewater State University.
In 2005, I received a Bachelors of Science degree (B.S.) in Anthropology, with a Minor in Spanish, also from BSU.
It is easier to document and summarize my certifications and accreditation in anthropology and mental health counseling, than in Vodou. Indeed, people around me are often skeptical about Vodou, and shocked to learn that I am a Vodou priest—especially given my education and career. I wanted to share the wonderful power that I have been blessed with. I want to show everyone how Vodou can change their lives. This is how I became a Houngan; this is why I am a Houngan.
What follows is the story of how I became a Houngan.
I was born in Haiti. My father was a highly skilled Houngan; two of my brothers became Houngans, and one of my sisters became a Manbo.
Around 1980, at the age of 12, I had a dream; someone appeared to tell me that I was to become a Houngan. At that age, I needed a confidant to help me understand: that was always my dad. He and I got along very well, and I was pretty comfortable speaking to him about anything; moreover, dream interpretation was part of his job. But at the time, he was already teaching one of my older brothers to become his successor; so he ignored what I shared. That was not the last of my prophetic dreams.
On July 18, 1981, I had my first truly scary dream: I was told that I would get badly burned in a fire inside the house, though they also told me that I would fully recover and heal. Reality struck soon after, just as the dream had predicted: the burns were so bad that the family was quickly gathered for my death, which was expected to be imminent. Yet, I recovered and healed fully.
Throughout the event and my recovery, I had many other encounters in dreams that told me I would be my father’s successor. But he continued to refuse to accept each dream or event as evidence of my calling. We all have blind spots, and Spirit works things out in strange ways.
Life went on. My family instilled a value for education; I finished High School, entering college with the internet to pursue a law degree. I had everything I always wanted in my life, except that I was still being pulled into Vodou. I started practicing Vodou for people on my own. I was not so sure how, but I do know that I helped them.
I left Haiti in 1997 to come to the United States to study criminology. Then, in 1999, I had a profound dream that prompted me to return to Haiti immediately and speak with my dad.
That was finally the turning point for us. He agreed that I was to become a Houngan and continue his legacy. He explained many things; he gave me many instructions. I observed and listened closely. A lot of learning took place during our time together. I returned to the U.S. in March 2000.
That June, my father sent me a video tape with a message: I was to be the carrier of our lineage in Vodou, the head of the family in that regard. He told me that my education as a Houngan would be finished by my older brother, who was already formally ordained. My father also said his time was up and he would soon die—though he did not want us to come back to Haiti just to see him. He only wanted us to carry on his work.
In keeping with one of my father’s instructions, I switched paths from criminology to anthropology and psychology. These fields helped me to better understand humanity, and provided me with guidance as to properly being a Houngan outside of the Haitian geography and culture. Thus did I study anthropology and become a mental health counselor—having already begun my work and training as a Houngan.