I get the feeling that there are no subsititutes for mythology, even in contemporary settings. First, one has to think about the time and the people that committed themselves to destroy myth, the moderns.
Thinking of a modern setting brings forward the question of what is modernity, when did it start and when did it come to an end. The term "modern" was first used by the Romans in the early 5th century. Modernus described the present, officially Christian, and different from the Roman and Pagan past. Certainly, the term in our languages expresses the consciousness of an epoch that relates itself to the past of antiquity, in order to view itself as the result from a transition from the old to the new (Habermas 1995, 163). In other words, modernity comes to be only in presence of the past. Weber characterized cultural modernity as the separation of reason from religion and metaphysics into three autonomous spheres: science, morality, and art. (1920, 27). When the religious and metaphysical worldview fell apart, issues of validity (or existence) were categorized into truth, normative rightness, authenticity, and beauty. They were now handled as questions of knowledge, hence that they were institutionalized. Modernity attempted to develop objective science, universal morality, and autonomous art according to their inner logic (Habermas 1995, 168), while the project intended at the same time to free these cognitive fields from esoteric forms.
This release from the non-modern meant the very denial of myth. Nevertheless, modernity is stocked with so many incongruences and contradictions that the only way to attribute unity to the project is by seeing it as a myth (Fitzpatrick 1992, 1). Now, the modern man must apprehend the world by its own means; nothing is mysterious, and there is now no need for divine intervention. Origin and meaning came to be through a process of discovery and realization. However, while modernity attempted to disenchant the world, it encountered a chimerical universe epistemologically unapprehensible by their own means (Adorno 1944, 11).
To disentangle from the remnants of this transcendence, the moderns created the Other (Todorov 1984). Modernity is a relational concept in regards to the Other, the unenlightened. So, modernity needs the Other to justify its incongruences and epistemological failures. The modern man is the divine that renders opposite existences compatible, by the creation of the Other and other means. And, if myth is this construction of this mute ground (Levi-Strauss 1963, 229), we have that modernity is mythological, and by rejecting myth, rejects itself (Fitzpatrick 1992, 45). Modernity is an incomplete project (Habermas 1995, 172) that failed to erase myth from Western thought, and likely it will not achieve this goal.
After all, myths “are means of grappling with universal truths or unexplained natural phenomena” (Loring and Hirsch 2011, 8). There is no substitute for myth in our cultures: religion, art, dreams, are all instances of myth (Campbell 1956). Myths instill and maintain a sense of awe and mystery before the world. They also provide a symbolic image for the world. Third, they maintain social order by giving a justification to social practices. Finally, they harmonize human beings with cosmos, society, and the parts of themselves (Doty 2000, 144).
So, in other words, myths also are narratives man creates to explain the world that surrounds him—to connect to reality. These narratives are made in a world full of incoherences and contradictions, a very dark and mysterious one, like ours. Myths use transcendence to overcome those contradictions. Through the transcendent figure, myths tell us a story that makes sense about a scary universe. Myths are, in my opinion, the very first epistemological device, the very first way men attempted to comprehend the world. Even if the moderns wanted to disenchant, to get rid of transcendece, they could not. There are so many instances. But let me explain one of them:
When the moderns came with all this thing of reason, pure reason, etc., they developed an universal narrative. This discourse was introduced in a transcedent world, a world that believed in gods, a world that was reconnecting with its classical roots, a world of fairy tales, etc.
The moderns were like: huh—no, you're wrong, we are right. Certainly they were right in science, and other fields, but we continue today to contest some modern ideas that they left us (i.e., political philosophy). The people that the moderns did not understand were catalogued as the Other. Modernity could not apprehend their myths, so they were not moderns; thus, as for the ideas of modernity are universal, they were outside this universality. Don't you see something strange here? Its a huge contradiction! How come their speech is universal when it is not? The only way they figured out to solve this puzzle was creating the figure of the Other, the un-modern, the uncivilised, etc.
Check out Fitzpatrick's book, The Mythology of Modern Law. It develops many points on what happened to mythology in modernity. For contemporary times, there's Campbell. I mean, check the art, the politics, etc. We're full of myths—figures to give sense to our contradictions.