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Also the husband of fellow theosophist and writer Bertha Diener, Eckstein's penchant for occultism first became evident as a member of a vegetarian group which discussed the doctrines of Pythagoras and the Neo-Platonists in Vienna at the end of the 1870s. His esoteric interests later extended to German and Spanish mysticism, the legends surrounding the Templars and the freemasons, Wagnerian mythology and oriental religions. In 1886, in the week after the tragedy at Mayerling, in which Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, and his mistress were found dead in mysterious circumstances, he and his friend, the composer Anton Bruckner (for whom he also served as private secretary) traveled to the monastery of Stift Heiligenkreuz to ask the abbot there for details of what happened.