Actually the best time I have had with the Gods and Goddesses, was a five year period when I just started to hear them whispering to me. I was wonderfully ignorant of rituals, blots, sumbels, etc... I had never even heard the word, "Asatru ", uttered in my whole life ! I had finally accepted the Triad of Gods and Goddess: Odin, Freyja, and Thor, and instead of some structured religious system of rituals, I simply listened to Them, and responded to them at the appropriate moments. If I sought Their advice I simply meditated until I felt Their presence, and then asked them my question in a humble and respectful way. I looked to Odin for wisdom, Thor for strength of will, and Freyja for matters of the heart. The one thing I was always careful not to do is ask for something of a physical nature. They are not genies granting wishes !
To do all of the above I did not need some ancient ritual that I carefully practiced daily. I didn't even know about religious rituals, or consecrating an altar, or giving offerings, etc.... The Gods and Goddesses were just there for me when I needed them, and I was always available for Them. They were not angry with me for not following some time honored ritual, or not sacrificing, or giving them an offering. They were there then, and They are there now for me, with no strings attached other than the bond of love, and respect we have for each other.
I actually think they are amused when I perform a ritual in Their honor for this or that. For surely they know how much I dislike it. (Our Gods and Goddesses are not always as stoic and stern as they are shown in our texts.) But surely They also know that They did not require it of me 30 years ago, and it is not necessary today. Blots, sumbels and rituals are more necessary for us than they are for Them. Oh don't get me wrong, I am sure that They appreciate our efforts, but I think They would prefer us to acknowledge Them everyday, not just on ritual days, or special events. I feel that I honor Them more with the love I show Them on a daily basis, than once in a while giving Them a plate of food, or a horn of mead to honor them on special occasions.
So why do I bother with rituals ? I do it because I respect my ancestors, and want to honor the Gods and Goddesses in a way that I feel mirrors, as closely as I can, how they honored Them. I also actually believe that They are amused by what I will say to Them each time. When you talk to the Gods and Goddesses everyday it is hard to come up with something unique to honor Them with, and They know it. Thor in particular I think gets a kick out of it !
The final question is would our Gods and Goddesses exist if not for the religion we have built around them ? The answer, as I experienced it, is absolutely yes ! Are rituals useless ? No ! They help us to get closer to the Gods and Goddesses, and they help to build a community of like folk with the same set of values and ideals. Religion may not be the Gods truth, but it is our reality as one way we show our Gods and Goddesses our love and devotion .
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !