The Embryo in Us

This course explores human prenatal development and how the shaping of the body (morphogenesis) expresses essential attributes of the development of the human being as a being of spirit and matter, of body and mind. The scientific method of phenomenology is used to open up a truly holistic understanding of the human being. By following the processes forming the human embryo, the course will shed light onto such themes as healthy development, the purpose and wisdom of the human form, and, indeed, the very meaning of human existence. The embryo as a psychosomatic unity of Spirit and Matter, Mind and Body. Or like Andrew Taylor Still mentioned it: Man is Mind, Motion and Matter.

Let's Share a Little More ... 

In the human embryonic development we are dealing with what could be mentioned as 'still functioning in forms'. By this is meant that the gestures of growth and development that the human embryo is performing could be interpreted and understood as human behaviour. And as a kind a pre-exercising of what later on will appear as physiological and psychological functions. “The body developed out of us, not we from it” (Rumi).

The human body gets its shape and form during the embryonic development in a continuous process of change and metamorphosis. Using the phenomenological approach it is possible to understand those gestures as human behaviour. During the early phases of human existence the processes that accompany the (at least conceivable) act of incarnation may be “read” from the biological facts. Those gestures also are a kind of echo or recapitulation of the gestures of development of man as a species. In this way biography and biology meet. The embryonic existence is no a merely passed phase of human life, the embryo still exists in us: also in our unconscious physical existence and body we act as beings of soul and body. 

The human embryo seems to be a kind of continuous empathetic equilibrium between 'introvert antipathy' and extravert sympathy' in relation to its context and environment. This polarity seems to be active in various dimensions and directions a.o. between head and extremities and between cranial (head) versus caudal (pelvis), while in the trunk and the vertebral column (the so-called Middle) the typically human quality of going upright and balancing seems to be preserved. 

During its total development the embryo is the expression of the presence of a being, which is able to mediate between “Heavens” (celestial forces) and “Earth” (terrestrial forces) and that like every living being exists in breathing between Chaos (motion, process, time) and Cosmos (Form, Structure, Space). 


Jaap van der Wal, MD PhD.

Jaap van der Wal Ph.D. is a medical doctor and till his retirement in 2012 he worked as associate professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Maastricht, Holland. After his medical education in 1973 he became specialized in the functional anatomy of the locomotor apparatus with (later on) emphasis on the architecture of connective tissue and fascia and its role in proprioception.

Gradually he developed as teacher in Philosophy of Science and in Medical Anthropology. My passion however was and still is human embryology. The human body is a process, developing and functioning in time. The embryo moves and behaves in forms. It is in this area that I encountered the Goethean phenomenological approach. I apply the method of dynamic morphology to understand what we actually are doing as human beings when we are embryo. With respect I can find in the embryo cautious answers to questions as to the meaning of human existence." After his retirement he fully devotes his energy to Embryo in Motion, a worldwide project on teaching Embryosophy. Also look at his website: He now teaches his ‘Embryosophy’ in Europe and USA in institutes for Craniosacraltherapy, Osteopathy, Polarity Therapy but also Prenatal Psychology and Trauma therapy and so on. Ηis website is:

Jaap van der Wal Books

Jaap van der Wal, Michaela Glöckler u.a., Bausteine einer anthroposophischen Physiotherapie - Dynamische Morphologie und Entwicklung der menschlichen Gestalt, Persephone, 3rd edition, 2009, ISBN 978-3-7235-1183-1. German, extensive English abstracts

Jaap van der Wal, Dynamic Morphology and Embryology. Chapter 4 in Guus van der Bie and Machteld Huber (eds), Foundations of Anthroposophical Medicine, Floris Books, 2003, ISBN 0-86315-417-4. In English (75 pages).

The Global Program in Themes 

Where do we come from? – Understanding the incarnating Embryo


Participator or onlooker? Two realities in one. Understanding or explaining? Goethean and phenomenological approach. Holistic science, a way to overcome and to enlarge Cartesian natural science? Polarity and/or duality? Spirit and matter as One What are we actually doing as embryo? Mind and body in the womb? Gestures of growth as human behavior and expression.

Where do we come from? The embryo as centripetal existence: from yond to here. How the soul shapes a body. The prenatal gesture of individuation and DE-velopment. Prenatally we have ‘two bodies’. Being born as gesture of dying and emancipation.

In the Beginning  Heaven and Earth – Conception as primordial Polarity


The Breath of Life between Chaos and Cosmos, Yin and Yang with in the Middle health and dialogue: Meden Agan. Death has two faces, Life is the Middle. Trinity of the animal body with trunk as the ‘functional elevation’. ‘Dynamic morphology' of fertilization and conception.

Phenomenology of the egg cell principle and the sperm cell principle with a Steigerung between two polarities with 'turning inside out' as signature of ‘The Middle’. The process of debiologicalisation as intermediate between spirit and matter. How does spirit come ‘into matter’?

The biology of incarnation? Getting or making children? Reproduction or 'passing on life'? The fertilized ovum (egg) as the undivided human body. The first week: organism and wholeness versus cellularity with differentiation and organization as the essentials of embryo life. Mineral body, time is not there yet. Nidation, the primordial dialogue of pregnancy. 

From Heaven to Earth – Individuation and Incarnation


The processes of the first embryonic week, when only the dimension of space is present. From the 'physical way of being alive’ to the 'plant man' (germinating and growing out) in the second week. The first axis in the body: the ventrodorsal direction in relation to environment. In the second week the lifetime dimension appears: Man is not 'there' yet, the embryo as nonindividualized being. The incarnation process of the heart: man is 'coming to here'. After the cranio-caudal and left-right polarity the dynamics of embodiment: the animal body. Fascia and blood as dimensions of mediation and innerness. Individuation & twins. The rhythmic segmentation of the middle: metameria of the body: Form, Rhythm, Cycle. Parietal vs visceral organization. From a being with mere 'outside' to a being with 'inner content’ (body cavity). 

Embryology of Freedom - Man as equilibrium between Heaven and Earth


The third phase: from a being with only 'outside' to a being with 'inner content’ (body cavity and organs). From growing out to growing in: 'animal man'. Dynamics of incarnation: de-lamination and individualization. Two bodies: Mirroring the macrocosm in the microcosm of the bodily organization. The extremities as a new principle. De-folding and “opening” of the body position. 

Polarities between arms and legs, head and extremities with the trunk in between as the image of freedom. Arms mediate. With the polarity of head and periphery, threefold being now appears in all dimensions. The fourth phase with unfolding the human erect posture. The conservation of the upright body as essential for the human quality of maintaining freedom and equilibrium. Man as the ‘adult embryo’ and ‘first-born’ creature. Retardation and non- specialization as clue. Man as mediator. Embryology of freedom.


To Whom Is it Ideal?

The Educational Course is ideal for all Health Professional and those who deal with Education as well as all human beings interested to explore more in the field of human life. Extremely interesting for Osteopaths, Cranio-Sacral Therapists, Polarity Therapists, Psychotherapists, Prenatal Psychologists, Body Psychotherapists, MD, midwives, School Educators, Homeopaths and Anthroposophists 

Who is the Educator?

Jaap van der Wal, MD PhD.

Is it Available?

Yes, you can register any time and complete the course at your own pace.

Shall I get any certificate?

Yes, all successful participants will get a Diploma of Professional Training.

The course gets 5  ECTS 

Is it necessary to have previous Embryology knowledge?

Prior knowledge of embryology is not required. Diagrams, illustrations and a reader will be available. The lectures and discussions are alternated with practical exercises like form drawing and bodily motions (‘eurhythmy’).

The Video Lectures now on DVD or on an MP4 player?

Now, you can order only the videolectures of "The Embryo in Us" on a DVD (The set consists of 9 DVD discs) or you can order the MP4 Player option to have complete freedom of any other equipment to study this life-changing educational module wherever you are. 

For your order send an email to asking for DVD or MP4 player option. Please attach your payment documentation of 100 euros to the bank account of cosmoanelixis IKE Piraeus Bank IBAN GR9201720600005060071056890. VAT and postage is included. 

In a Nutshell!

1st PART: Where do we come from? – Understanding the incarnating Embryo


2nd PART: In the Beginning  Heaven and Earth – Conception as primordial Polarity


3th PART:  From Heaven to Earth – Individuation and Incarnation


4th PART: Embryology of Freedom - Man as equilibrium between Heaven and Earth



€ 340,00



1/1/2016 - 1/31/2025


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To access the course you should be registered in relevant curriculum. Please complete the registration form

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