And The Gods Were As Immutable As The Stars
The night sky was clear, and the stars were beautiful. Almost without realizing it he found the Polestar... then he shook his head and corrected himself. Well, for him at least, Thuban would always be the Polestar. It was one of so many details that reminded him of all he had been through, of how much had everything changed... even the stars.
He knew them since before they had names to go by. They were older than he was, and that gave him some measure of comfort. They were good company, and they didn't talk all that much. It felt good to know that in some cases even the light he was seeing was older than himself, it kept him grounded, it reminded him that, as long as his life might seem to be, it was nothing.
New knowledge had given him an insight as to the workings of stars. He now knew that he was looking through time into a non-existing picture. That the stars were not necessarily where he saw them, and that their current arrangement, not to mention their brightness, was the result of an optical illusion created by their respective distances to the Earth... but he also remembered a time when he didn't have that knowledge... when the stars were fixed, a sure guide to be trusted across a desert or an ocean.
He could see the constellations, paying homage to the ancient gods (as those constellations, long forgotten, had done before), and he smiled. The old gods had survived in the sky, in spite of everything that had happened on the ground... though he could remember the time before those old gods were even born, when those same stars had been other gods... and even before that... when they were the souls of the dead, or their guarding spirits, in a time when there were fewer questions that needed to be answered.
Those days seemed alien now, even to him. Sometimes it was hard to remember what it was like. There were no gods when he was young. There had been spirits of nature, of course, and legends, and guiding forces, but the gods as such were yet to be born.
His friends were sometimes taken aback by his cynicism and skepticism. Most of them had lived their whole lives under a single God. They couldn't possibly understand that he had long ago lost even the hope of ever finding a constant to live by, and that it had been only by losing that hope that he had been able to adjust and survive through the millennia; to survive the gods, the kings and the brutality of the world around him. He was not proud of some episodes in his past, but deep inside he knew that there was nothing he wouldn't do again should the need arise.
The world didn't seem to be any less stable than it had before, and the pretense of a civilized era gave him some small comfort, but certainties seemed to be changing faster than they ever had... principles that had held fast through most of his life kept turning out to be false, and even for mortals, the new certainties seemed far from certain. Everything could change without a moment's notice, there was nothing fixed in the universe. The stars were in motion, as were the planets, and the Earth was only a minor one among them.
It was a bit of irony, he never would have believed it, but in the end the old saying had turned out to be true. The gods were really as immutable as the stars.
About Thuban: 5,000 years ago it was Thuban (and not Polaris) the star that was the closest to the celestial North Pole, that's why it is considered alfa Draconis, even though it is only the seventh-brightest star in that constellation (Draco,the Dragon).