I have been giving a lot of thought to joining the Scottish Rite. Other Masons who know me and my interests seem to think that the Scottish Rite would fit me even better than the York Rite. Indeed, discussions on various mailing lists always seem to tie the Scottish Rite into topics with which I am either familiar or curious about.
The Scottish Rite is not organized in the same manner as other bodies with which I am familiar. In the United States, it is divided into northern and southern jurisdictions, although the names don't seem to be very descriptive. Oregon for some reason belongs to the Southern Jurisdiction though it's certainly in the northern half of the United States. The Northern Jurisdiction covers just fifteen states, leaving the other thirty-five for the Southern.
Non-Masons will be delighted to learn that the Scottish Rite is the source of all those 32° and 33° Masons. Most Freemasons will tell you that there is no degree higher than the 3°, or Master Mason degree. This is true in some sense as the Master Mason degree is the highest one can receive in a regular Blue or Craft Lodge in most regular Grand Lodges in the United States. However, other rites such as the now-clandestine Rite of Memphis & Misraïm have degree numbers reaching up to the 99°. The Swedish Rite, practiced by the Grand Lodge of Sweden and other Scandanavian Grand Lodges, reach only to the X°. There is quite a bit of variation in the way degrees are numbered and worked in Freemasonry.
Regardless, in the United States the higher degree numbers offered by appendant bodies is explained away as being further explanations of the 3°, giving no additional rank or priveledge to a Brother who receives them. However, considering the amount of dedication and work required of one who reaches these high degrees, it is not so strange to see the honors heaped upon one who has received the Grand Cross or other honorary degrees.
On Thursday I will hopefully be receiving a petition. With that in hand, I shall embark upon yet another Masonic Journey!