Seventh son of a seventh son

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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 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 gods because of his birth order.

The seventh son of a seventh son is also widely believed to have a direct link to Satan in some areas, and is thus granted with other "special abilities."

Regional variations[edit]


The seventh son of a seventh son is gifted as a healer. There are several alleged cases of an Irish healer in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Paul Joseph Cawley was a seventh son of a seventh son and was known[by whom?] in this coal mining town for allegedly[examples needed] healing many skin diseases[citation needed]. 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]

Argentina and Latin America[edit]

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 from which attacks was immune. 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 snuck 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]

Real-life seventh sons of seventh sons[edit]


  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. ^ "Perry Como | Explore the Arts - The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts". Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  9. ^
  • Parman, Susan. "Curing Beliefs and Practices in the Outer Hebrides." Folklore, Vol. 88, No. 1 (1977), pp. 107–109.

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