The Swan

DHARMA Initiative Station #3

The Swan, more commonly known as The Hatch by the survivors of Flight 815, was an underground facility on the Island built by the DHARMA Initiative during the late 1970’s. It was located somewhere in the southwest region of the Island, about a mile inland from the survivors’ camp.

The station was originally designed to be a laboratory where DHARMA scientists would study and manipulate the “unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from this sector of the Island,” according to Dr. Pierre Chang (as Marvin Candle) in the Orientation film. However, after the “incident”, they enacted a special protocol to prevent a potential global catastrophe. (“Lost: The Answers”) Two individuals manning the station took shifts (entering numbers into a computer) every 108 minutes. These two operators lived and work at the station, continuing this task for shifts lasting 540 days.

Sun (Fire)


Water (Fertility)




Station History 

DHARMA Initiative

The DHARMA Initiative detected a pocket of anomalous energy beneath grid 334 on the Island, at a strength 30,000 times stronger than that at the Orchid. They planned to study and harness its power, and Stuart Radzinsky began designing the facility in 1971.


By July of 1977, Radzinsky had full blueprints of the station and a survey map, and construction began. He planned to manipulate electromagnetism through experiments at the station, believing that the results would change the world. Pierre Chang called the Swan project “confidential” as the station was located inside Hostile territory. The station’s existence needed to be kept secret because The Truce forbade deep drilling.


During construction, one worker died when electromagnetism pulled a dental filling through his forehead. Soon before main drilling began, workers stamped the station’s hatch with serial numbers. (“Some Like It Hoth”)  (“Namaste”)  (“The Incident, Parts 1 & 2”) When Daniel Faraday returned to the Island in 1977, he immediately warned Pierre Chang that continued drilling would lead to a release of a highly unstable energy, causing the Incident.

The Incident


Despite Faraday’s warnings, and an altercation that killed several DHARMA workers, the Incident occurred. Workers penetrated the Swan pocket, and the resulting energy release shook the ground and pulled metal objects into the drilling shaft. Jack dropped the bomb into the site at Faraday’s urging, and Juliet detonated it. It is unknown whether the Incident occurred in spite of or due to the execution of Faraday’s plan. (“The Incident, Parts 1 & 2”)

The Survivors

Season Two (Days 44–67)


The survivors descended into the Hatch and encountered Desmond, its only inhabitant, learning also of the computer “pushing the button”. Jack and Locke eventually took over Desmond’s task of setting up a rotation of responsibility, wherein everyone would take shifts entering the Numbers, which Locke initially believed to be of great importance. (“Orientation”)


Locke and Desmond (who had been rediscovered floating in the Elizabeth just off the beach), both frustrated by the station’s ambiguity, decided to not enter the Numbers to prove the station was merely a test. They shut Eko from the computer room against his protests and let the countdown timer run down to zero, causing a system failure. The countdown timer flipped to five red hieroglyphs. A huge magnetic force shook the station and yanked and twisted metal objects. Realizing the button served a real purpose, Desmond entered the crawlspace beneath the floor of the Swan and turned the fail-safe key. (“Live Together, Die Alone”)



The Swan was originally conceived and designed to be a scientific laboratory, but after the incident it became a continually manned post with apparently the sole purpose of pushing the button. Dating from the 1970s, the subterranean station still had the conveniences and technology from that era when the survivors discovered it. Since at least after the purge the station has appeared to have signs of maintainence neglect in multiple areas.

The Swan also contains one or more concealed cameras allowing video surveillance to be carried out from the Pearl. There is at least one camera in the main living area. (“?”)  (“Exposé”)

The Hatch


The first entrance discovered by the survivors was a steel hatch, set atop a long vertical shaft some 50 feet deep. A ladder previously led down into the depths, but it was broken and the rest missing a short distance down from the top. The inside of the hatch had the word “QUARANTINE” stenciled on it. The Numbers were also imprinted on the outside of the hatch; apparently the serial number of the Swan station or possibly of the hatch itself. A large spotlight was affixed to the wall at the base allowing illumination of the shaft above. (“Exodus, Part 3”)  (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2”)  (“Some Like It Hoth”)

Living area 


The living space was the largest part of the Swan where the occupants of the station would spend their time when not working. This area had many conveniences: a bedroom with a set of bunk beds; a bathroom with working sink, shower and hot running water described by Kate as having a sulphur smell; miscellaneous exercise equipment; a washer and dryer; a dining nook; a central kitchen area equipped with an oven, stove-top, and sink; and a lounge area equipped with a record player, LP collection, a lava lamp, well stocked bookshelves, a ping-pong table, and a painting of a tree.


A small cabinet contained an injector and a number of vials of a strange DHARMA vaccine. On the ceiling near the armory was a blood stain from Radzinsky’s suicide.

Clues: Sulfur in Antiquity

Being abundantly available in native form, sulfur (Sanskrit, गन्धकsulvari; Latin sulphur, ) was known in ancient times and is referred to in the Torah (Genesis). English translations of the Bible commonly referred to burning sulfur as “brimstone”, giving rise to the name of ‘fire-and-brimstone’ sermons, in which listeners are reminded of the fate of eternal damnation that await the unbelieving and unrepentant. It is from this part of the Bible that Hell is implied to “smell of sulfur” (likely due to its association with volcanic activity).

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Blast Door Map


During “Lockdown”, a lockdown incident occurred unexpectedly. Locke was trapped beneath one of the blast doors while Ben crawled through the vents seeking to push the button before the timer expired. The station’s normal lighting cut out entirely and a different set of ultraviolet “black-lights” turned on. The new lighting revealed a large hand-drawn map on the blast door entering the living quarters. The map appeared to be of the Island, supplemented with numerous equations and notations written in English and Latin. (“Lockdown”) In the video game Lost: Via Domus, there was a second layer of notation that could be seen under different lighting conditions. This “second spectrum” of the map included additional information regarding other island locations including the Barracks, the Hydra, and the Looking Glass. (“Forty-Two”)

Orientation Film


Inside the Swan the survivors discovered an orientation film produced in 1980 by the Hanso Foundation – describing the origin and purpose of the station for new arrivals. In the film, Dr. Pierre Chang, using the alias Dr. Marvin Candle, gave a brief overview of the founding of the DHARMA Initiative. According to Dr. Candle, the Swan was originally designed to be a laboratory “where scientists could work to understand the unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from this sector of the Island”. However, after an “incident”, a protocol was introduced in which two individuals manning the station would take alternating shifts pressing a button (i.e. entering the Numbers into a computer) every 108 minutes for 540 days, at the end of which replacements would arrive.

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Associated LOST Themes & DHARMA Stations


Associated LOST Characters

Primary SymbolismSun (Fire) & Sky Deities

Sun (Fire)









Secondary SymbolismUnderworld, Death & War Deities












Secondary Symbolism: Water (Fertility) Deities

Water (Fertility)






DHARMA STATION (Symbolic Deity Reference)

Decoded LOST Character (Horace Goodspeed)

Apollo is one of the most important and diverse of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of thekouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, medicine, healing, plague, music, poetry, arts and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. Apollo was worshiped in both ancient Greek and Roman religion, and in the modern Greco–Roman Neopaganism.

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing were associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague. Amongst the god’s custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

Attributes & Symbols 

Apollo’s most common attributes were the bow and arrow. Other attributes of his included the kithara (an advanced version of the common lyre), the plectrum and the sword. Another common emblem was the sacrificial tripod, representing his prophetic powers. The Pythian Games were held in Apollo’s honor every four years at Delphi. The bay laurel plant was used in expiatory sacrifices and in making the crown of victory at these games. The palm was also sacred to Apollo because he had been born under one in Delos. Animals sacred to Apollo included swans, wolves, dolphins, roe deer, cicadas (symbolizing music and song), hawks, ravens, crows, snakes (referencing Apollo’s function as the god of prophecy), mice and griffins, mythical eagle–lion hybrids of Eastern origin.


DHARMA STATION (Symbolic Function)

In classic mythology, below UranusGaia, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus.

Like other primal entities (such as the earth and time), Tartarus is also a primordial force or deity.

Tartarus in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Tartarus is both a deity and a place in the underworld even lower than Hades. In ancient Orphic sources and in the mystery schools Tartarus is also the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, c. 700 BC, the deity Tartarus was the third force to manifest in the yawning void of Chaos.

As for the place, the Greek poet Hesiod asserts that a bronze anvil falling from heaven would fall 9 days before it reached the Earth. The anvil would take nine more days to fall from Earth to Tartarus. In The Iliad (c. 700), Zeus asserts that Tartarus is “as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth.” It is one of the primordial objects that sprung from Chaos, along with Gaia (Earth) and Eros (Desire).

Gods imprisoned in Tartarus


While, according to Greek mythology, The Realm of Hades is the place of the dead, Tartarus also has a number of inhabitants. When Cronus, the ruling Titan, came to power he imprisoned the Cyclopes in Tartarus and set the monster Campe as guard. Some myths also say he imprisoned the three Hecatonchires (giants with fifty heads and one hundred arms). Zeus killed Campe and released the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires to aid in his conflict with the Titan giants. The gods of Olympus eventually defeated the Titans. Many, but not all of the Titans, were cast into Tartarus. Epimetheus, Metis, and Prometheus are some Titans who were not banished to Tartarus. Cronus was imprisoned in Tartarus.

CRONUS (Roger Linus)


Plato also proposes the concept that sinners were cast under the ground to be punished in accordance with their sins in the Myth of Er. Cronus (the ruler of the Titans) was thrown down into the pits of Tartarus by his children.

APOLLO (Horace Goodspeed)


Other gods could be sentenced to Tartarus, as well. Apollo is a prime example, although Zeus freed him. In Tartarus, the Hecatonchires guarded prisoners.

TYPHON (Benjamin Linus)


Later, when Zeus overcame the monster Typhon, the offspring of Tartarus and Gaia, he threw the monster into the same pit.

Famous inhabitants of Tartarus

Originally, Tartarus was used only to confine dangers to the gods of Olympus. In later mythologies, Tartarus became the place where the punishment fits the crime.



The giant Tityos was slain by Apollo and Artemis after attempting to rape Leto on Hera’s behalf. As punishment, Zeus has Tityos stretched out in Tartarus and tortured by two vultures who fed on his liver. This punishment is extremely similar to that of the Titan Prometheus.

SISYPHUS (Jimmy Lennon)


Sisyphus was sent to Tartarus for killing guests and travelers to his castle in violation to his hospitality, seducing his niece, taking his brother’s throne, and betraying Zeus’ secrets. When Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus in Tartarus upon his death, Sisyphus tricked Thanatos by asking him how the chains worked and ended up chaining Thanatos. He then had Persephone send him back to the surface to scold his wife for not burying him properly. Ares managed to free him and Sisyphus was dragged back to Tartarus by Hermes. In Tartarus, Sisyphus would be forced to roll a large boulder up a mountainside which when he reached the crest, rolled back down repeatedly. Sisyphus took the bold step of reporting one of Zeus’ sexual conquests, telling the river god Asopus of the whereabouts of his daughter Aegina. Zeus had taken her away, but regardless of the impropriety of Zeus’ frequent conquests, Sisyphus overstepped his bounds by considering himself a peer of the gods who could rightfully report their indiscretions. Sisyphus rolling the boulder up a mountainside is said to represent his frustration.

SALMONEUS (Bartender)


King Salmoneus was also mentioned to have been imprisoned in Tartarus after passing himself off as Zeus causing the real Zeus to smite him with a thunderbolt.

TANTALUS (Ticket Agent)


Tantalus was also in Tartarus after he cut up his son Pelops, boiled him, and served him as food when he was invited to dine with the gods. He also stole the ambrosia from the Gods and told his people its secrets. Tantalus’s punishment for his act (now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction) was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone, like that of Sisyphus.


Also found there was Ixion, one of the mortals invited to dine with the gods. Ixion began to lust after Zeus’s wife, Hera, and began to caress her under the table, but soon ceased at Zeus’s warning. Later that night, having given Ixion a place to sleep, Zeus felt the need to test the guest’s tolerance and willpower. Constructing a cloud-woman to mirror Hera in appearance known as Nephele, Zeus sent her to Ixion’s bed. He promptly slept with and impregnated the false Hera giving birth to a race of Centaurs called the Ixionidae. As his punishment, he was banished to Tartarus to forever roll strapped to a wheel of flames, which represented his burning lust.


In some versions, the Danaides murdered their husbands and were punished in Tartarus by being forced to carry water in a jug to fill a bath which will thereby wash off their sins, but the jugs were actually sieves so the water always leaked out.

MINOS (Daniel Faraday)


According to Plato (c. 427BCE), Rhadamanthus, Aeacus and Minos were the judges of the dead and chose who went to Tartarus. Rhadamanthus judged Asian souls; Aeacus judged European souls and Minos was the deciding vote and judge of the Greek.

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Punishment inside Tartarus

In many religious traditions, Hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict Hell as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict Hell as an intermediary period between incarnations. Typically these traditions located Hell under the Earth’s external surface and often included entrances to Hell from the land of the living.

Modern understandings of Hell often depict it abstractly, as a state of loss rather than as fiery torture literally underground, but this view of hell can, in fact, be traced back into the ancient and medieval periods as well.



Punishment in Hell typically corresponds to sins committed during life. Sometimes these distinctions are specific, with damned souls suffering for each sin committed (see for example Plato’s myth of Er or Dante’s The Divine Comedy), and sometimes they are general, with sinners being relegated to one or more chamber of Hell or level of suffering.


In many religious cultures, including Christianity and Islam, Hell is traditionally depicted as fiery and painful, inflicting guilt and suffering. Despite these common depictions of Hell as a place of fire, some other traditions also portray Hell as cold. In Buddhist, and particularly in Tibetan Buddhist, descriptions of hell, there are an equal number of hot and cold hells. Among Christian descriptions Dante’s Inferno portrays the innermost (9th) circle of Hell as a frozen lake of blood and guilt.

Ancient Greek Hell


In classic Greek mythology, below Heaven, Earth, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is either a deep, gloomy place, a pit or abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides within Hades (the entire underworld) with Tartarus being the hellish component. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus. As a place of punishment, it can be considered a hell. The classic Hades, on the other hand, is more similar to Old Testament Sheol.

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‘Pushing The Button’ (The Numbers)

During the second season of Lost, the survivors discovered a computer inside the Swan station which required the Numbers to be entered into it every 108 minutes. A timer set into the wall provided a continual countdown – and an alarm would sound as the timer neared zero. Entering the Numbers sequentially and pressing Execute (a.k.a. pushing the button) on the keyboard would cause the timer to reset to 108 minutes and begin the countdown anew. It was initially unclear what would happen if the button was not pushed.


According to the Swan Orientation Film, DHARMA personnel were stationed in teams of two at the station for a tour of duty lasting 540 days. It was recommended that they work in alternating shifts in pushing the button. (“Orientation”) At some point Kelvin Inman joined the DHARMA Initiative and was assigned to the Swan with his partner, Radzinsky. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)

Season 1


Desmond failed to enter the Numbers in a timely fashion on September 22, 2004, triggering a system failure. Although the sequence was entered just after the countdown expired, the resulting massive magnetic surge caused Flight 815 to break-up in mid-air and crash on the Island. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)  (“A Tale of Two Cities”) Alone in the Swan, Desmond continued to man the station for the next 40 days, carrying on the duty of pushing the button all by himself until the survivors blew open the hatch. (“Orientation”)

Season 2


Jack and Locke were the first two survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 to learn of the station’s protocol. Desmond, the lone caretaker of the station, disclosed the bare facts of the situation and pointed them to the orientation film. He fled the station after the computer became damaged in an accident, thinking it was destroyed. With Sayid’s help, they managed to repair the computer – and Locke made a decision to take on Desmond’s role pushing the button with the help of the other survivors. (“Orientation”)


Days later, Locke inadvertently allowed the timer to reach zero, at which time a loud sound was heard as if something were powering up — and the timer then flipped to a series of red and black hieroglyphics. Locke discovered it was still possible to enter the Numbers and, on pressing Execute, the counter reset, flipping back to 108. (“One of Them”)


Following the DHARMA protocol, the survivors made an effort to set up shifts of two people in the station to operate the computer – with Locke initially taking on more shifts than anyone else. Locke’s faith in the station, however, began to fall apart after Ben’s arrival – and Ben’s description of the Swan as a “joke.” This feeling intensified for Locke after he and Eko visited the Pearl – when he came to view the protocol as a meaningless psychological experiment. Mr. Eko, however, took over the duty of pressing the button. (“Dave”)  (“S.O.S.”)  (“?”)

Countdown Sequence


The timer began a countdown from 108 minutes.

  • With 4 minutes to go on the timer, an alarm was triggered at a rate of one beep every two seconds. The Numbers could then be entered, followed by the Execute key.
  • When the final minute was reached, a second alarm sounded at a rate of one beep every two seconds.
  • With 10 seconds remaining, the second alarm would speed up to a rate of one beep every one second.
  • When the timer reached 0, the timer flipped to a set of static red and black hieroglyphics – and “system failure” was broadcasted repeatedly over the station’s loudspeakers.



Desmond described the process of entering the Numbers, as told to him by Kelvin Inman, as “saving the world” (“Orientation”)  (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”). Kelvin remarked in “Live Together, Die Alone” that a “charge” progressively “builds up” in or near the Swan, with an accompanying magnetic field. The procedure of “pushing the button” effectively discharges the amassed energies.

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