When most people recount our myths and mythologies, they are taken at face value. Thor riding across the sky in a wagon pulled by goats, creating lightning by striking with his hammer, for instance. There doesn’t seem to be any consideration that there might be some deeper meaning, something esoteric and hidden and not immediately obvious.
As I see it, our mythologies are a sort of language, a way for our ancestors to explain and remember the world and the forces of nature to themselves, and their descendants in terms that were easy to pass down orally. Our fairy tales are like this to an extent. They take on a form and a language that is easy to remember and to pass down, and as we know our fairy tales were meant to give moral lessons to children, at least in some sense.
Does the story of Ragnarok really describe the end of the world? Is Jörmungandr, the world serpent, really a giant sea serpent coiled around Midgard or is there something more than meets the eye, something esoteric?
A reason for our current interpretation of the mythologies could be that we see them through a Christian lens, so to speak. Ragnarok describes a giant predetermined battle wherein the Æsir die, and the world is submerged in water, and so could line up fairly well with the Christian Apocalypse, to use an example.
This is of course merely speculation on my part, but I assume it to be the case. To me it just seems more likely. Archeological findings certainly suggests that the neolithic era man was far more advanced than we generally give him credit for.