The seventh son or seventh daughter is held with great regard as a natural-born healer in many European folk traditions. This is often held as a “sign” that the child will have some inborn powers to heal certain diseases. In the Appalachians the seventh son or seventh daughter is often said to be able to heal thrash or pull out a burn by just blowing on it. Vance Randolph mentions this folk belief in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:
“If there are seven sons in a family, and no daughters, the seventh son is clearly intended to be a physician. The seventh son of a seventh son is a physician in spite of himself, endowed with healing powers which cannot be denied.”
The seventh son and seventh daughter is just that, the seventh in a row of males or females born to a family. A lot of times extra power is given to the seventh son born to a seventh son, and likewise with a daughter. It’s often said that the seventh son will never marry and never have children of their own, although the previously mentioned folk belief would oppose that view.
This belief has figured into folklore and stories for centuries. One such novel that uses this theme is by French-Roma author Mateo Maximoff and is entitled “La septième fille”. It focuses on the Roma folklore surrounding the seventh daughter belief and follows Silenka, a four-year-old child who is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and is destined to become a healer.