Culsu is a Etruscan goddess associated with gateways and death. She appears as a topless winged woman carrying a torch and scissors. Her name means "She Who Coils". She stood at the gates of the underworld, with her partner Culsans. As with many Etruscan deities, she has wings, presides over death or the underworld, and has an unexplained association with snakes ("she who coils").
Most of the Etruscan religion and mythology was lost long ago, along with their language and culture, so we don't really know a lot about Culsu. Culsu is often referred to as a demon by scholars, and in haruspicy (augury), she presides over certain ill omens. Her partner Culsans has a lot in common with the Roman god Janus, but there's no easy Roman or Greek equivalent to Culsu, so she remains a significant mystery.
Game and Story Use
- A winged demoness or goddess who stands at the gates of the underworld armed with a pair of scissors? It's such a unique image, I felt compelled to make a page about it even though we know next to nothing about her. If you want to surprise your players when they assault the gates of hell, put Culsu on the barricades.
- Would work well in a pantheon with a "weaver of fate" like the Scandinavian Norns … the weaver spins or weaves your life and, come the end of it, the keeper of the gates of death cuts the cord.
- Astral Projection is sometimes characterized as involving a silver cord or string that is used to connect your roaming spirit to your body, and allow you to find your way back home. As a goddess of gateways, Culsu would be able to follow you into the Astral Plane. As a demoness with scissors, she could easily snip your chord. Culsu might appear as a guide or challenge to be faced by the would-be dimension-hopping PC.
- The Etruscans put a lot of energy and wealth into properly providing for the needs of dead ancestors. They may not have had a Hell at all. Culsu could be more of an angel than a demon. The scissors might be for "benevolently" trimming the ties that bind the recently dead to the mortal realm - perhaps she snips them so people can transition and not be tied to the earth as ghosts.
- Culsu: angelic ghostbuster.
- For additional ideas, see Etruscan Mythology