In reading back over part 1 of this post, I see that I left it hanging at an awkward point; I will now try to clear up any resulting confusion! Most of what follows probably belonged in the middle of the second paragraph of part 1.
(NB: as always on this blog, what I post is just my understanding; I can’t speak for other Druids or Hellenists, and certainly will never say “pagans believe/do/don’t do” whatever – there is no such thing as a religion called “paganism”. I participate in two distinct, modern pagan religions – Hellenismos and Neopagan Druidry. I will try to be explicit about this, but in case I forget, it should be assumed that everything I say refers to my experience in these two traditions unless otherwise stated.)
I said, ‘whether these things “actually happened”, the stories themselves have something important to tell us‘. It’s important to be clear here about where I stand vis-a-vis the mythoi, and about what I see as the difference between myth and scripture.
Most Western pagan religions don’t have “scriptures” in the sense that most Abrahamic monotheists (or many Hindus, I believe) would understand the term, as direct or indirect revelations of a deity. My own view of myths in general, and of mine in particular, is that they are the record of the experience of individuals and cultures with the Gods, and how they understood those experiences. Some probably do reflect, if not perfectly record, actual “time machine” style historical events (Schliemann demonstrated that); some almost certainly do not; and many… well, I honestly have no way to know.
Given that the myths are written and in at least some cases surely invented by humans, it follows that there is no imperative to regard them as perfect and unalterable fact. Frankly, given how many different versions there are of many of the stories, it would be a remarkable exercise even to try; but to assume therefore that they should not be taken seriously is just as big a mistake. These stories tell us about someone’s experience of our Gods, and for that reason they deserve to be taken seriously, and read with spiritual as well as historical discernment. To not be “true” is not the same as to be false. I think that on some level, Prometheus was indeed really chained to a rock for opposing the will of Zeus and giving us the gifts of fire (and possibly of life itself) – indeed, that He may be eternally chained there, and also eternally free. I also believe that if I had a time machine, what I would probably see is the discovery and harnessing of fire by our evolutionary ancestors; but because I might not be able to discern the coming of Prometheus does not mean that He was not there, or that He is not eternally coming.