August Engelhardt and the cult of coconut lovers

Today is World Cat Day, but we will break the stereotypes and introduce you to August Engelhardt – a dreamer, a vegetarian and a nudist.

August was born in Nuremberg in 1876. In those years, the movement for a healthy lifestyle “Lebensreformism” was gaining momentum in Germany. It included young people who wanted to be closer to nature and ate mainly raw fruits and vegetables. The result of this movement was the spread of naturalism and nudism throughout Europe.

After graduating from university, August Engelhardt actively supported the idea of healthy eating, completely refused to eat meat, but, being an ardent and enthusiastic person, he went much further. August’s passionate love was the sun, the tropics and coconuts. In his opinion, this worship-worthy fruit is the pinnacle of all living things on planet Earth. It is surprising that the country, famous all over the world for its conservative customs, meat sausages, beer and steaks, was able to raise such an ardent “coconut lover”.

Unable to withstand the oppression and condemnation of his lifestyle in his homeland (you can imagine how difficult it was then for such a hippie among mannered Germans), Engelhardt saved up money, boarded a ship and sailed to Papua New Guinea, where he purchased a plantation on Cabacon Island , built a straw hut and started selling coconut oil. The local authorities would know that soon this bearded man with burning eyes will become their real headache, earning the title of the Naked Emperor on the island…

August Engelhardt and the cult of coconut lovers

It is not known exactly when August Engelhardt got the idea to create the “Sonnenorden” (“Order of the Sun”). However, having tasted enough of the nectar of the “philosopher’s stone”, as Augustus called coconuts, they founded a personal religion. And her main ideas were:

  • unconditional worship of the sun and coconut
  • rejection of clothing
  • consumption of exclusively vegetarian food.

It is desirable to eat only coconuts, since the sun is the basis of life, and the coconut is the closest to the sun of all living things (it grows only in the tropics under the scorching sun), which means that it is the quintessence of solar energy. Thanks to this, a “cocophagus”, a person who feeds exclusively on coconuts, will be able to renew himself and move to the next level of existence, to receive pure divine energy and live forever.

Now we understand the dangers of infatuation with similar ideas and strict monodiets, but then, succumbing to the whims of fashion, a total of about three dozen young people responded to the call of a sun worshiper-cocophagus. Unfortunately, in conditions of strict asceticism, life on a tropical island turned out to be full of privations and diseases. Some sectarians died, others quickly returned to their homeland. And Engelhardt himself fell seriously ill. With a height of 166 centimeters, he weighed less than 40 kilograms and was in a very difficult condition. Augustus was urgently hospitalized, but after intensive therapy, he escaped from the doctors and continued to preach, attracting tourists to the island with his extraordinary personality, due to which many cruise ships even had to change their routes – people from all over the world were interested in the Naked Emperor.

Most often, the guests of the island were disappointed by the Order of the Sun, which, in fact, consisted of one Engelhardt for most of its existence, and despite the repeated attempts of Augustus to spread his religion around the world, it never took root, in 1919 it went to nothingness together with its creator.

August Engelhardt was “resurrected” in 2012 by the Swedish writer Christian Kracht, who quite by chance saw a postcard at a garage sale with an image of a thin, bearded man in a bandage on his hips. Interested in the prototype of the hippie, Kracht wanted to learn more about the man from the postcard, and the result of his research was the novel “Empire: Tales of the South Seas”, which was translated into Ukrainian in 2018.

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