To me, a Witch is a Shaman (the terms are interchangable- they just come from different geographical regions-"Witch" simply means a western European shaman)- they are highly trained in specific skills. They have done years of rigorous self work to get to be as strong as possible (magically, energetically, physically, emotionally, and mentally) to be a strong container for the Mysteries that will be revealed to them. This self work exists as preparation for the actual work of a Witch- affecting change in all the worlds. (This Great Work is not done for its own sake, or to become a "better person". Witches do it to become the best Witch possible.)
Witches can talk to and relay messages from the gods. They can act as a human vehicle to bring them here for others. They can divine people's possible futures and help weave destiny. They can do spellwork to manifest changes in the worlds. They are healers, artists, and activists. Witches are NOT dabblers- they are priests. Yes, I know people who call themselves Witches but do not fit this definition. If they asked me to give a definition of what I thought they were, I would probably say "pagan" was more accurate*. Pagan is a commonly used term for a huge umbrella of people, including people who work magic- and is general enough to cover all kinds of non-Abrahamic thought and religion- be it polytheistic, pantheistic, Wiccan, heathen, or what have you. Pagans can be what Christians call "lay people" or "laity"- that is, not just clergy.
community, we should all be equal- and by equal they mean the same. I do not believe equality comes from uniformity.
My partner (who is also an initiate of my Witchcraft tradition) and I have talked about this phenomenon and have a couple different takes on it. We both agree that we disagree with this opinion. (I mean, we both keep secrets and have oaths, right?!). We just disagree for different reasons and I think that these differing reasons complement one another.
I personally believe that folks who say these things have not reconciled themselves to power and being powerful. They have lived, as we all have, in a culture that takes power from others and is hierarchical and puts people in opposition to one another. They have a hard time seeing a new way of being, within the shell of the old. They are afraid of inequity- and so they reason that no one should have something that others do not. They see it as a great equalizer- throwing out all secrets and oaths.
The whole "everyone can be a Witch" movement, to me, is a fallacy. It takes innate talent, the Gods claiming you as one of theirs, and lots of hard work to make a Witch. It takes sacrifice- willing sacrifice that most are unwilling to do**. Can everyone be an opera singer*? Nope, and not everyone can be a Witch. And you know what? That's really okay. I am friends with folks with many religions, faiths, and philosophies- I do not value my Witch friends more than the others.
My partner tried to explain his reasons for secrets to a man this past weekend this way: "You wouldn't go telling everyone and anyone what you do with your partner in the bedroom, would you? What you do with your lover is an intimate secret- for you two alone. It is the same way with us and our Gods. They are our lovers."
I tried to tell this same person that someone who is unable to keep secrets is a leaky vessel. The Mystery and a tradition would not remain intact in a leaky vessel, it would ooze everywhere and get mixed with all kinds of outside debris. Our job, as initiates is to protect, uphold, and pass on the tradition intact. To do so, we must be intact vessels.***
*Many thanks to Eldri for this analogy.
**Personally, I lost all financial stability, my marriage, half of my family, plenty of friends, and much more. These changes happened organically as I personally changed. Witchcraft changes you. In the end, you are not the person that starts study. And that is the point. I know a Witch that calls it "being cleft from the herd". It is like that- as a Witch, you are perpetually in-between. It can be an uncomfortable place to be, in a comfort-driven society. Many are unwilling to do this. That is a choice made by someone who is not called to be a Witch. I personally had no choice. At a certain point in my training, I realized I could only go forward, never back. There was no back.
***We do have lots of interesting influences getting into the tradition gradually, through the initiates who live and breathe it daily. Some are Buddhist practitioners, are root doctors, or have other Witchcraft or cunning traditions that influence how they practice and pass on the tradition. For example, my oath mother was raised in an indigenous tradition and that flavors what she passes as well. So while we do not share with outsiders (who have not taken an oath to protect), the outside does get in.