a journey through the human embryo
in search of Soul and Spirit
- Human as Embryo

This workshop is led by JAAP VAN DER WAL - associate professor of anatomy and embryology specializing in functional anatomy of the musculoskeletal system with an emphasis on the architecture of connective tissue and fascia and their role in proprioception. He also teaches philosophy of science and medical anthropology. Now retired, he is primarily involved in teaching embryosophy.
The workshop will be held in English with translation into Czech.


16. - 20. october 2024


ZÁMEK BERCHTOLD, Hlavní 6, Kunice, 251 63 Vidovice
(Chateau Berchtold in Vidovice, nearby Prag)


What you can expect

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. Or like Andrew Taylor Still mentioned it: Man is Mind, Motion and Matter (The Triune Man concept). The scientific approach of phenomenology is used to open a truly holistic understanding of the human being. In this way it will appear to be possible to get through to the spiritual essence of this phase of our human existence and to the embryo in us. Amongst others attention will be paid to Fascia as The Organ of Innerness.

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 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 not merely a 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.

The aim of this course is to make the attendants aware of the great processes and forces of becoming that work in the human body as the necessary conditions for being a human individuality. Not only with the intellect but also by the heart: phenomenology is the approach of experiencing and participation instead of pure thinking and observation.

Prior knowledge of embryology is not required.

The lectures and discussions will be alternated with practical exercises like form drawing and bodily motions (‘eurhythmy’ and ‘anatomy dancing’).

The course of the workshop:
It starts on Wednesday 16.10. at 10am and ends on Sunday 20.10. at 5pm.
There are lunch breaks and occasional short breaks throughout the day. Accommodation and all day meals are included.

MORNING BLOCK 9:00 (first day 10:00) - 12:30 lecture (with break)
AFTERNOON BLOCK 14:00 - 18:00 (last day 17:00) with break

Craniosacral therapists, psychotherapists, psychologists, doctors, doulas, midwives, other lecturers and therapists who work with the body, as well as anyone who is interested in questions of existence on the vertical plane and interested in how the spirit, the soul, enters into form. For all who wants to understand life not only with the intellect but also with the heart.


Jaap van der Wal

Associate professor of anatomy and embryology and teacher of embryosophy
Jaap van der Wal PhD MD is a physician and until his retirement in 2012 he worked as associate professor of Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands.
After his medical training in 1973, he specialized in Functional Anatomy of the Postural and Musculoskeletal System with (later) emphasis on the architecture of connective tissue and fascia and its role in proprioception. Gradually, he developed as a teacher in the philosophy of science and in medical anthropology.

“My passion, however, was and still is human embryology. The human body is a process that develops and functions over time. The embryo moves and behaves in forms. It is in this area that I came across Goethe’s phenomenological approach. I apply the method of dynamic morphology to understand what we actually do as human beings when we are embryos. I respectfully find in the embryo tentative answers to questions about the SIGNIFICANC’ of human existence."

After his retirement in 2012, he devotes himself entirely to Dynamension, a worldwide project to teach Embryosophy. Check out his website: www.embryo.nl.
He now teaches his “Embryosophy” mainly in Europe and the US at trainings for Craniosacral therapy, osteopathy, polarities therapy but also the courses are open to prenatal psychologists and trauma therapists and S(omatic)E(experience) practitioners and so on. Inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, the courses, seminars and webinars are open to anyone who is in search of spirit AND body in man with an open mind: building bridges between science and spirituality.
Also check out the website: www.embryo.nl (trilingual)


Jaap van der Wal, Michaela Glöckler (Hg.) Dynamische Morphologie und Entwicklung der menschlichen Gestalt, Verlag am Goetheanum.

Jaap van der Wal, Dynamic morphology and embryology. Capitol 4 v Guus van der Bie a Machteld Huber (eds), Foundations of Anthroposophical Medicine, Floris Books, 2003, ISBN 0-86315-417-4. 


If enough participants sign up, we will be able to finance the online transmission and subsequent processing of the video recording. If this is the case, then everyone who purchases a ticket will also be provided with an time-unlimited video recording, which they can return to at any time thereafter.