The question arose on an Asatru group recently - does our religion need new myths? Are the old ones irrelevant to modern men and women?
I think it's good to ask questions like this. We need to challenge our own ideas from time to time, and there's a lot of room for free inquiry in a faith such as Asatru. So, when the suggestion of new myths was posed to me, I gave it serious thought.
Here's where I ended up: We can make up new stories, but we can not make up new myths.
Myths are not casual tales, composed on the spot to make a moral point or to entertain or to amuse. They are not the product of rational thought, consciously imposed on a particular subject matter - in this case, the activities of the Gods. They speak the deep language of the unconscious, and the more profound levels of our own being respond to them (Often entirely bypassing conscious awareness as they do so). The mythic motifs found in our lore are often consistent all across the Indo-European world, and in some cases, even beyond. They are created, not by the conscious mind, but by the unconscious - one could even say, by the Gods - and then emerge to consciousness. Deliberately composing modern myths would completely reverse this process.
This doesn't mean the old stories can't be paraphrased. Accurate re-tellings retain the essence of the myth, and also stimulate an interest in the original manuscripts. But modern, consciously-devised sermons posing as myths do not have this power.
There is more to genuine myths than meets the eye. Both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain many layers. Take "Havamal," for example - in English, "The Words of the High One." On the surface, most of the poem is made up of nothing more than prudent advice for living. However, there are deeper aspects to even this apparently straightforward poem, elements that as Jim Chisholm has shown are meant as a guidebook for higher spiritual evolution. Similarly, the story of Odin's mead theft in the Prose Edda contains specific information on techniques for attaining god-like consciousness and power. To cast aside this hidden material, or to claim that a modern homily-motivate myth is as good as the original material - well, that would be a colossal mistake.
Asatru's myths were written for several purposes beyond setting good examples for daily behavior. We've seen that Havamal is not only a practical guide for behavior, but also an encoded handbook for higher evolution. What about that other pillar of the Poetic Edda - "Voluspa," or "The Prophecy of the Seeress?" Scholars tell us it is a "didactic poem" designed to teach the lore, but I think it is just what the title says - a prophecy, a vision of things to come, considered so important that it was specifically included in the Poetic Edda for our benefit. No pseudo-myth we might make up can come close to any of this.
In short, my position is this: We can't make up myths to replace the old ones or to put alongside them on an equal basis. Yes, the myths are ancient - meaning they were written down long ago, and recited orally long before that. But in a more important sense, the myths are timeless. They express, as someone once said, "that which never happened, but is always true."
Asatru Folk Assembly