An answer I gave to a question on the OR Forum:
Ragnarok can be interpreted on a number of levels, it’s also important to remember that the text is conditioned by the age it is written in and the prevailing ethics of the time. You mention the Greeks, well if one studies Homer and compares representation of the Gods in the Iliad or Odyssey with many of the cults (many Near Eastern influenced) that arose in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, you will notice changes. Of course if one studies Tactitus, what we know of Migration Age Germanic belief and the later Icelandic texts we also note changes.
Bearing that in mind I take Ragnarok to be a reasonable example of genuine indigenous belief in northern Europe, albeit one, perhaps, overly tinged with the martial characteristics of the “Heroic Age”. For me it draws focus upon the reality of existence and the permanence of (eventual) death. A generation of Gods lives on in the new creation, but these (minus a couple of exception who I suspect are present for different reasons) are not our Gods, our Gods sacrificed themselves to ensure that there would be a new beginning, they prevented the oblivion that otherwise awaited. This is what Fenris represents, the ultimate end, not none existence, this implies existence, but the complete…nothingness….that lies outside of both. The enlightened who go onto Valhol live on but their fate is that of the Gods, an end to being in order to ensure the prospect of new creation. It is the ultimate sacrifice.
There is no and they all lived happily ever after in our mythology, perhaps that was conditioned by the reality of existence in northern Europe but I find it terribly beautiful for that, these aren’t lies to children, these are truths for grown ups, there is an optimism born of the reality of the world as it is, not as it should be or as a fantasy realm that many religions create in order to make life, for them, more bearable. I don’t necessarily blame them for that, it is appealing, but it’s not how I see things and I don’t need, what are for me, comfortable fictions to sleep sound at night. Ragnarok emphasises the life affirmation of Odinist philosophy, make the best of the world, treat the earth with respect, because it is fragile, it is impermanent, it will be destroyed, but that spark of being/life is here now, same with our lives, make the most of them, I’m not sure what comes next (if anything) but I’m not convinced death is an equal opportunities employer, I think some of us make it, most of us are destined for dust, so what will you do with your life? When you’re (hopefully) old and grey and lying on your death bed what do you want to have given the world? What do you want your life to have meant? You may get another chance, who knows, but we know we are here now.
Just one perspective I have on it.