Gullveig and the Loss of Innocence
In the times of innocence, it is as if the elves spoke directly to these developing creatures, and that is how communion took place. But after the arrival of Gullveig, formal worship became necessary to retune what had been lost. And through the rites of worship, the Gods took it upon themselves to intentionally strengthen and cultivate the morale, virtues, and character of the folk, so long as the folk met them halfway by remembering to hold the ceremonies.
This was not a total loss from the perspective of the Gods, who over time have become very good at making lemon out of lemonade, and omelettes out of broken eggs, because it allowed them a conduit through which to bolster and fortify the human spirit and begin slowly accelerating its long, evolutionary journey. Whenever we meet up with a people who have formal rites, we know that they, too, in some way, experienced the winding thread of corruption that required periodic, formal, and communal correction. These tales are told in different ways but they speak to common roots. That doesn't mean, of course, that every folk experiences exactly the same things. There are many differences, but there are also common roots that unite and define us as mortals and as human beings.
Heid's spoiling magic was the arousal of fear and envy to controlling forces, the raising of petty squabbles to outright division, and the replacement of respectful difference and mutual regard to scorn, mockery, and the Art Freya developed to help beings commune with the rest of the nine worlds through love perverted into an endless Hatfield-McCoy witch-war frenzy of curses and malifice.
Thus, the rites are meant to bring us together where we have torn ourselves apart, to strengthen our courage and morale where we have fallen into fear, to replenish cycles of giving where both envy and stinginess had begun to split us apart, and to create an atmosphere both friendly and formal that allows for mutual regard to regain its footing and find its root.
And if religion doesn't do that, it's not doing its job. At the very least it should be on its way towards that goal. Is yours?