Scholars today often fail to see the continuity of the belief system of our forebears through the ages, and thus often claim every new thing that seems to appear is a result of some alien influence, usually an invasion by some fictional people or even a complete replacement of the former population.
One might wonder if they claim this because they have a sinister agenda, or perhaps only because they have been programmed to behave in a certain (politically correct) manner, and especially so in relation to European cultures.
What we should do though, when we approach our own culture, is to understand that there is a thin red line through all of it, through all ages and all European cultures. Everything is basically the same, but there are four different ways of seeing it.
The key to the oldest sources is to know that in the most ancient of times our forebears were hunter-gatherers and believed in spirits (sorcery). After that we see the introduction of both agriculture and deities (religion) as we know them today. Not all hunter-gatherers became agriculturalists though, and not all agriculturalists replaced their belief in spirits with a belief in deities.
So there were four different cultures based around the same original culture: a hunter-gatherer sorcery culture, a hunter-gatherer religious culture, an agricultural sorcery culture and an agricultural religious culture.
Further, these cultures didn’t or didn’t always replace the older dominating culture, but often existed alongside each other — often at the same place.
Although simplified, it works well to define these four like this:
Seiðr (belief in spirits/sorcery) + Veiðr (hunter-gatherer) = The old tradition
Seiðr (belief in spirits/sorcery) + Byggjandi (agriculturalist) = The tradition
Ásatrú (belief in deities/religion) + Veiðr (hunter-gatherer) = The old religion
Ásatrú (belief in deities/religion) + Byggjandi (agriculturalist) = The religion
When we do that we can look at the high festivals, myths and other traditions and make so much more sense of them.
Knowing this it e. g. makes sense that the spirit of the forest is pictured as an elk in Scandinavian rock carvings, but is described as a deity, Víðarr (“wood”, “forest”), some thousand years later. We know they are the same, simply by looking at other names for Víðarr: he was known also as Elgr, which of course means “elk”.
(PS. Latin: Alcis)
Even today we call the elk “the king of the forest” in Scandinavia. Well, now you know why…
So when you see petroglyphs with images of elks in Scandinavia, they are Bronze- or Stone Age depictions of Víðarr, the silent god of the forest. Or if you like: when you read myths about Víðarr, you read about the elk in the petroglyphs. What you know about one of these ages can be transferred to the other.
When you possess this key you might be able to see a large four-dimensional picture, rather than just tiny two-dimensional fragments of it.