Scottish Rite is the second largest rite, and like York Rite, it confers the three degrees of Symbolic Masonry in Blue Lodge. However, in the United States, the symbolic degrees are not conferred by the Northern or Southern Masonic Jurisdictions; they are given only by lodges duly and lawfully chartered by a Grand Lodge.
From there, however, the number of degrees expands considerably, up to and including the famous Thirty-third Degree, or the Sovereign Grand Inspector General, which is given by the Supreme Council and is the administrative head of the rite for the jurisdiction under its authority. Below the Thirty-third Degree are twenty-nine other degrees, which are divided into groups, each with its own governing body subservient to the Supreme Council. In general, these bodies are as follows: Fourth Degree through Fourteenth Degree are conferred in a Lodge of Perfection; Fifteenth and Sixteenth degrees are conferred in a Council of Princes of Jerusalem; Seventeenth and Eighteenth degrees are conferred in a Chapter of Rose-Croix; the Nineteenth through Thirtieth degrees are conferred in a Council of Kadosh; and finally, the Thirty-first and Thirty-second degrees are conferred in a Consistory of Princes of the Royal Secret. Of course, like all things Masonic, there is some variation in these assignments according to jurisdiction.
Lodge of Perfection—These degrees elaborate on King Solomon's Temple and the search for the Lost Word or unspoken name of God. They are similar to Royal Arch Degrees in York Rite.
Council of Princes of Jerusalem—These degrees consist of the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon. This particular division does not exist in all Masonic jurisdictions, and these degrees are included in the Chapter of Rose-Croix.
Chapter of Rose-Croix—While Christian in tone, these degrees contain alchemical symbolism and suggest a Rosicrucian influence in Masonic development.
Council of Kadosh—This is a particular classification for governing the Nineteenth through Thirtieth degrees within the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction. Kadosh is Hebrew for "holy" or "consecrated to God" and denotes the nature of the philosophic instruction of these degrees. There is a Templar connection as well.
Consistory—This is an administrative designation and consists of the meeting of members of the Thirty-first and Thirty-second degrees for the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction and the Nineteenth through Thirty-second degrees for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. There is a distinct Templar association with the Thirty-first and Thirty-second degrees, and as such, it is clear why Council of Kadosh is included in Consistory in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction to reduce this redundancy.
The size and scope of these degrees constitute small theatrical productions, becoming a form of initiation combined with a morality or teaching play. In the United States, these degrees are rarely given to a single member at a time but rather to groups of men, often in an auditorium or theater specially designed for the purpose of degrees. In Europe and elsewhere, the degrees are conferred on a smaller scale with less theatrics, but the fundamental nature, teaching, and lesson of the degrees are the same.
Excerpted from Freemasonry, by Mark Stavish.