When someone sneezes, it's considered polite to respond with a blessing or a wish of good health.

So what do you say when a pagan sneezes?

(No aspect of culture is too obscure to merit careful consideration.)

Well, you could say Bless you or Gesundheit like everyone else, but there's nothing distinctively pagan about either. (How Americans came to use the German word for “health" as a sneeze-blessing is a question well worth the asking, but it's one to which I don't know the answer.)

Wiccans might say Blessed be, although I don't think that I've ever heard this phrase—generally reserved for greetings and farewells—used in this way.

But for my pentacles, the Irish have the right of it.

In the Gaeltacht, when someone sneezes, you respond: Deosil. May it go right with you.

Pagans will generally be familiar with this term in its sense of “clockwise” movement. When you move with the Sun, you move in the right way. It's a fine thing to wish on someone.

(I suppose one could English this as Sunwise, although I've never actually heard anyone respond to a sneeze in this way. Still, it might be worth the try.)

In American Pagan, which tends to pronounce non-English words as if they were English (hey, Samhain is Sam Hane, right?), this word is pronounced DAY o' sill. Well, if you must.

But on the principle of fighting fire with fire, I'll go with the Irish pronunciation, thank you very much: JESH'l.


It even sounds like a sneeze.