I believe their are natural forces which effect us all. To personify them as Gods, is the part I refer to as "invention".
Norse Heathenism is not just a religion, but also a way of life. As Norse Heathens we object to being labelled. But in modern "society" labels are power. Or, more to the point, nothing can be achieved without them. Before Christianity, Judaism and Islam were invented all religions were similar in content. In that they where Earth and ancestor related (Particularly between local tribal groups.). It was only when a different group of people appeared that we were forced to make a distinction between ourselves and the invaders from the East.
Because the Christians felt it necessary to separate their newly invented way of life from that of the original inhabitants of, at this point, Europe, it became imperative to separate ourselves from the invader. For it was only then that we were called upon to defend our ways. To defend yourself from verbal, rhetoric attack, you must define yourself. To define means to label. In effect we were expected to justify ourselves without having done anything wrong. Heathens believe we are responsible for our own actions. We don’t answer to anyone except our own conscience and morality.
Up until this point, religion was an abstract thought, something that the tribe accepted, as breathing and hunting food. All equally necessary. It is only modern philosophy that forces us to label an abstract principal as "religion". Even to give your name is a surrender to the power of others. That is why, when you ask a Heathen his name, the answer will not be fast in coming and the answer may well be "why?"
We believe that the interaction between man and spirit is an automatic process, the same as a new born child taking it's first breath. Contrary to popular opinion they do not need a smack on the behind, this is only a midwifes way of saying; "you kept me from my supper, you little bugger".
Labelling shows a need to separate the spiritual powers from every day life. This is why we have no "church", or "temple". Our religion happens all around us. The wind in the trees, the sprouting seedling etc. It is this acceptance of "oneness with nature", without the need of labelling, that separates Norse Heathens from the monotheistic beliefs. This over powering need to divide and separate by labelling is we feel, if not the driving force behind bigotry. Then it is the enabler.
Thorr, Tyr, Freya etc. are not originally names, rather words describing complicated abstract principals of natural science, relationships between our selves other people and the environment.
In "The masks of Odhin" (pp 33) Elsa-Brita Tichenall puts it thus: “As we study mythologies in the light of the theosophical ideas we recognize that their Gods are personified natural forces which are not static or perfect but represent evolving intelligences of many grades. Some are so far ahead of our condition that they surpass our loftiest imaginings, having in the past undergone the phase of rudimentary self-consciousness wherein we find our selves at present and gained a spiritual stature we have yet to reach. Others may even be less evolved than the human kingdom. These would be on the way "down" towards matter, having not yet attained our stage of material development. The Eddas’ Gods and giants are the two sides of existence, the duality from which worlds are formed. Gods are conscious energies, intelligences of many grades. They embody in stars, planets, humans - in every form of life. This would include seemingly lifeless organisations of matter - rocks, storm clouds, ocean waves - that we do not generally think of as living but which, being organisations of atoms, possess the dynamism of the atoms that compose them, as well as their own unique characteristic structures and motion.
The energies that supply this dynamism in the universe are the individually evolving consciousnesses the myths call "Gods.”
The family is probably the most important aspect of life to the Norseman. But not only the family. They need food, warmth and protection from the environment. Thereforee, the means of production, i.e. forests for food, fire wood and building material, the fields for food, sea lakes and rivers for fish and, later trade, and the home are all of equal importance to that of the family its self. It is from these needs that the Gods sprang.
As can be appreciated, in the earliest times the Gods were pastoral, agricultural deities. These came to be called the Vanir. When it became necessary to expand land usage to feed larger families, (perhaps as an inevitable result of the Vanir being pleased with the people and giving good crops for healthier families) then conflict between neighbours became inevitable. Warriors and weapons then became an important addition to food warmth and shelter. The art of war fare brought the need for other Gods. Here was the birth of the Äsir.
The stories that grow around these Gods to explain how they came into being, their particular import and the tools they use, i.e. sun, rain, snow etc. have come to us as mythology. These mythologies also explain the scientific thought of the time. A lot of it more advanced than the science of today. (It is my contention that electric circuitry and black hole theory were well known by the Norse, and are shown in the mythologies as glaringly obvious when read in the light of modern scientific "discovery”).
The science and workings of the world must be passed to younger generations, in the way of mythology, fairy tales etc. The Gods have become "names" in the myths because it is easier, and more interesting for people to learn by story telling. This is not the same as labelling the whole religion.