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Cronin thinks these trends toward spiritual exploration have to do with the resurgence of a hyper-conservative element in American politics. "We've got religious groups who see things in very black-and-white terms, combined with our generation's postmodern, cynical, secular inheritance," she says. "In reaction to this, I think there's been an upsurge of superstition, and an American pop culture that's obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural" — she cites the vampire craze and Harry Potter. "People are desperate for something magical, invisible and beyond themselves."
When Cronin met Overton in 2008, she was working with playwright Asher Hartman, who's also a practicing psychic medium. In 2010, the two of them met Tanya Rubbak, who had recently acquired a library of New Age literature from the estate of L.A. psychic Bella Karish, who died in 2007 at age 97. In early 2011, Overton, Cronin and Rubbak were talking about creating spiritual publications or some similar sort of ongoing project. They chose a name for themselves, one that sounded like a headline and a mantra — Signify, Sanctify, Believe — and began to build their Library of Spiritual Technologies, now full of pamphlets, videos and audio recordings where artists lead meditations or describe spiritual experiences they've had. Elana Mann, for instance, describes feeling her recently deceased grandmother's spirit weighing her down on her wedding day. The group also made their infomercial.
This past spring, SSB and four other artists took a pilgrimage to Mount Shasta an hour south of the Oregon border. There they performed a sanctification ritual under a waterfall, purifying objects that people had brought to them before they'd left L.A., though they just had Polaroid photos of these objects with them, not the real things. They had crystals and wore ceremonial costumes. They weren't without skepticism, but they were genuinely interested in what would happen and what they would feel.
"We see a lot of humanity in even the strangest of New Age exercises," Cronin says. "I also liked the idea that making art comes from the same impulse as making magic or praying to God — that a person has a powerful question or problem or need, and are filled with overwhelming desire to physicalize that."