Seventh son of a seventh son

This article is about the folklore concept. For the Iron Maiden album, see Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

The seventh son of a seventh son is a concept from folklore regarding special powers given to, or held by, such a son. The seventh son must come from an unbroken line with no female siblings born between, and be, in turn, born to such a seventh son.[1] The number seven has a long history of mystical and religious associations: seven virtues, seven deadly sins, seven Sleepers, seven-league boots, seven ages of man, seven days of creation, seven hills of Rome, seven lucky gods of Japanese mythology, the Seven Sages, seven sisters, seven stars, seven wonders of the world, etc. In this case, it refers to a man who is the seventh son of a man who is himself a seventh son.

In some beliefs, the special powers are inborn, inherited simply by virtue of his birth order; in others the powers are granted to him by God or the gods because of his birth order.

Regional variations


The seventh son of a seventh son is gifted as a healer. The seventh son of a seventh son is part of a more general phenomenon known as the "cure" (sometimes also called the "charm").[2]


According to Kendall's Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States, in the year 1807–1808 while visiting the Newgate copper mine and prison, the author met an innkeep who told him that "there was to be found in the surrounding hills, a black stone, of a certain species, through which a seventh son of a seventh son, born in the month of February, with a caul on his head, can discern everything that lies in the depths and interior of the globe." The author speculates that the importance of mining to the community gave rise to this localized belief.[3][4]

American author Jackson Pearce uses the folklore around seventh sons in her novel Sisters Red, in which potential werewolves are seventh sons of seventh sons.[5]

Latin America

It is believed that he will be a werewolf, lobizón or lobisomem (the word in Portuguese language that means "werewolf"). To stop the curse the newborn should be baptized in seven different churches, or be baptized by the name of Benito while the eldest son is his godfather. It is important to note that the local myth of the lobizón is not connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina becomes godchild to the president.[6]


"Ciarallo" was the seventh son who had the power to enchant and recall snakes, and who was immune to snake venom. It wasn't enough to be a seventh son but was needed a special initiation rite called "inciaramazione". Recourse was made to Ciarallo when a snake sneaked into the house and it is said that the reptile was promptly attracted by the sound of his whistle. Another social task of Ciarallo was "inciaramare" other people by spreading a special oil, complete with a special recipe, on the arm of those who requested the treatment to ensure protection from snakes bites. Children were led to Ciarallo by their mothers to get protection.[7]

References in contemporary culture

Film, television and radio



Real-life seventh sons of seventh sons

While singer Perry Como discussed his being the seventh son as fact when interviewed, Como had two older sisters and only one older brother who survived to adulthood, plus three preceding siblings who died in infancy.[15] American football broadcast commentator Len Dawson self-identifies as a seventh son, but is an eleventh child with intervening sisters.[16]


  1. Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, Edmund Fillingham King, p. 315.
  2. See A D Buckley 1980 'Unofficial healing in Ulster.' Ulster Folklife 26, 15–34
  3. "Thomas Holcombe of Connecticut - Person Page 877". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  4. Denis Larionov & Alexander Zhulin. "Travels through the northern parts of the United States, in the year 1807 and 1808 (Volume 2) by Edward Augustus Kendall". p. 12. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  5. Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman and Roslyn Weaver, p. 28
  6. "No, Argentina's president did not adopt a Jewish child to stop him turning into a werewolf". Retrieved 2015-02-06.
  7. "TRADIZIONI E MITI POPOLARI". Retrieved 2015-09-06.
  8. "Interview with JK Rowling After HBP - Part 3". The Leaky Cauldron. July 28, 2007.
  10. "Seventh Son Virus". 1992-07-20. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  11. "Crystal Ball (v1) G.I. Joe Action Figure - YoJoe Archive". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  12. "Indian Healer Returns Home" (PDF). The Massena Observer. Massena, St. Lawrence County, New York. March 20, 1930. Retrieved April 20, 2016 via NYS Historic Newspapers. Some have attributed the boy's miraculous power to his descendancy. He is the seventh son of a seventh son and from this circumstance is believed to have been endowed with a sort of sixth sense.
  13. "Abram George: Mohawk Fatih Healer (United States, 1916?". Boys' Historical Clothing.
  14. Bonaparte, Darren. "The Healing Powers of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". reprint from The People's Voice, October 21, 2005
  15. Macfarlane, Malcolm; Crossland, Ken (June 13, 2009). Perry Como: A Biography and Complete Career Record. McFarland & Company. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9780786437016. Perry usually shrugged off the idea that he had any special gifts because of it, although he never denied its veracity, despite knowing full well that he had only one elder brother.
  16. Thomas, Jim (April 20, 2012). "Dawson back in Alliance as hometown hall of famer". The Repository. Canton, Ohio: Gatehouse Media. “I’m the seventh son of seven sons,” Dawson said of being the youngest male in a brood of 11.

External links

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