The way I learned with the Mythic Tarot book, was that while the Major Arcana cards represent the major archetypes we become in all of our lives the minor arcana numbered cards cover the more menial and physical experiences in the four dimensions of life. Each of which are represented by the four suits: cups, wands, swords, and pentacles. I also learned to associate them with the elements. Cups go with water and represents the emotional aspects of things, wands go with fire and represent creativity and the changes as well as the dangers it creates, swords go with air and represents out mental standpoint as well as wit and thinking, finally the suit of pentacles goes along with earth and the physical realm such as our homes and our bodies as well as our monetary fortune. The court cards of the minor arcana represent archetypes of people we encounter in our journey.
As RubyElysian pointed out, the Major Arcana are grander themes, while the Minor Arcana  represent much more specific concepts. But it certainly does not end there!
The representations of the elements in the Minor Arcana in Tarot go farther than just the suits.  For example, the Aces represent the pinnacle of the suit's element. Each of the court cards represents a combination of elements, in a sense, such that each element is divided, and its own facets are being explored. You may encounter statements such as "The Queen of Swords is the Water of Air." It is not the same as simply combining the two elements, but more the Queen -- when not interpreted as representing a person -- of Swords is seen as the emotional side of intellect, to be as brief as possible.
Each of the numbered cards in the suits represents a value and meaning associated with numerology in relation to the element, in addition to however the card's image may be interpreted. Twos, for example, represent duality, choice, and similar. Eight carries its numerological meanings as well. Many of the numbered cards carry with them a similar theme, or thread of meaning at least, similar in some aspects to the same number from the Major Arcana, as well as similar astrological attachments.
It is said that the tarot itself, if studied deeply, is a manual for the teachings of the Golden Dawn. This very disjointed post hardly even scratches the surface. But that does not mean the cards must be used that way; but the symbolism is there, and quite deep, ready to be used for divination or meditation, as one sees fit.
 Tangent one: The Minor Arcana are also called the pips by some, thanks to the origin of the current tarot deck being so connected to the much less pictorial Marseilles Tarot, which basically had a quantity of each suit's symbols.
 Tangent two: Some iterations of the Rider Waite deck are rife with blinds, or deliebrate mistakes and misrepresentations to misdirect and misrepresent arcane knowledge, with the intent of not displaying Occult secrets to those not already in the Golden Dawn. Some of these include quantities of items being changed, to alter the numerology in the cards. Some include changing specific items or symbols. Most interesting to me is that some of these deliberate gaffs include mixing up representations of elements, such as representing the Swords suit with symbolism for fire in some cases -- just for an easy example -- to obscure the elemental associations of the suits.
I'm at this point trying to gain a deeper understand of the Tarot in order to use them without needing to have a guidebook right next to me, and the associations of the Minor Arcana with numerology and even the Major Arcana of the same number is interesting to me, as well as the deliberate misrepresentation of some cards. I would definitely like to read more into these; do you have any suggestions for books/websites/articles?