Folklore: 7th Son of a 7th Son

This topic is presented for entertainment purposes. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the topic.

Welcome to Freaky Friday!  Today’s topic is one I picked up from song lyrics.  It is supernatural in nature, and the origin is folklore.

We’re going to talk about the supernatural powers that the seventh son of a seventh son is rumored to have.  This is a new topic for me, one on which I have little knowledge.  Because of that, I’ll invite readers to share their knowledge of this folktale in the comments section.  This concept is fascinating to me, and I’d like to learn more.

Where I First Heard It

When I kept hearing variations of “seventh son of the seventh son” in songs, I got curious enough to investigate the meaning.

The first song that made me aware of the concept was Molly Hatchet’s “One Last Ride.”  The song’s narrator says that he is like his father, the son of the seventh son.

The song’s content seems to deal with a narrator who has hard time staying out of trouble.  He regrets it, but doesn’t know how to remedy his situation.  In the song, he’s taking his last ride.

Another song (I like) that features a seventh son is “Ball and Biscuit” by the White Stripes.  “Ball and Biscuit” is a cool song for me because it uses the structure of traditional 12-Bar Blues.  I love that sound.

The narrator of the lyrics is talking to a woman, probably trying to seduce her.  He brags that he’s the seventh son and implies that he has special powers.

If you’re curious about the song, check out the You Tube video.  The lyrics of the song are posted in the video description.

Link to the video.

It is suspected that the White Stripes may have taken the concept for “Ball and Biscuit” from Willie Dixon’s song “Seventh Son.”

Willie Dixon’s song is about a guy who claims he can read minds, raise the dead and anything in between.  He keeps saying he’s the one, and I guess he is if he can do all that.

So what does it mean?

My research has led me to believe the seventh son of the seventh son is blessed with special, supernatural powers.  This means different things in different parts of the world.

Common themes are

  • Healing powers (Ireland, Native American cultures)
  • Lycanthropy (UK, Paraguay, Argentina, parts of Latin America, Spain, Brazil)
  • A direct link to Satan, which grants supernatural powers
  • Possessing the “second sight”
  • Has supernatural powers but struggles between using them for good or for evil

Edward Augustus Kendall, author of Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States (1809), recorded a legend about the seventh son of the seventh son from a tavern owner named Luke Viets near Newgate Prison in Connecticut .

I’ll paraphrase the legend so I don’t have to copy it.  It said that somewhere near the tavern was a black rock.  If a son of a seventh son who had been born in February with a caul over his face found this rock, he would have the knowledge of the universe.

It’s vague, but I took the legend to mean that the finder of this rock would gain the second sight.  But I may be wrong.

Seventh Sons

  • In I Chronicles 2:13-15, David is listed as the seventh son.  (However, in I Samuel 16:10-11, David is listed as the eighth son.)
  • Perry Como was the seventh son of a seventh son
  • Len Dawson was the seventh son of a seventh son

Seven in the Holy Bible

The number seven comes up repeatedly in the Holy Bible.  I am not a Bible scholar by any means, so I won’t talk too much about this.

An internet search will turn up quite a bit of information.  There have also been books written on the subject of numbers in the Bible.

Suffice to say, I think seven is a number of great power and significance in the Bible.

Conclusion

I am just beginning to research this topic, and I find it very interesting.  I can see so much possibility for use of the folktale in my fiction.  It’s creepy.

The reason I’m posting it here without having any done more researching is that I’m at a standstill.  I have a decent library of books on folklore and haven’t found any references to seventh sons of seventh sons in them.  I suspect much of the legend has been lost over time.

If you enjoyed this article, the best compliment you can pay me is to check out the My Fiction page on this website or visit my Amazon Author Page on amazon.com. 

Comments on this article are closed. I am focusing full time on my fiction writing career and no longer have time to discuss (via comments or email) the content of these articles. Please enjoy this article for what it is—free (albeit imperfect) information. For further information on this topic, please peruse my sources below. 

Sources:

Excerpt from Kendall’s Travels Through The Northern Parts of the United States

“Seventh Sons and Their Seventh Sons” Chambers Book of Days

The Wikipedia entry on Seventh Sons of Seventh Sons has an excellent list of songs, film references, and book references for the legend.

“The Healing Powers of the Seventh Son” by Darren Bonaparte

Comments are closed.